Macron Tells Netanyahu That US Recognition Of Jerusalem Is Threat To Peace

By TheGuardian US

A Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli security guard in the chest in what police described as a “terrorist” attack, the first since Donald Trump sparked widespread Palestinian anger with his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Palestinian media identified the assailant as 24-year-old Yasin Abu al-Qur’a from a village near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Shortly before the attack Qur’a reportedly posted on Facebook mentioning Jerusalem. “In your path, O homeland, O Jerusalem, O Al Aqsa, our blood is cheap,” he wrote less than a day before, referring to the sensitive al-Aqsa mosque

The incident at Jerusalem’s central bus station came as violence flared elsewhere, including during a demonstration against the move outside the US embassy in Beirut.

Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, arrived in Europe on his first foreign trip since US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

At a press conference following a meeting with Netanyahu, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said he had “told Netanyahu that Trump’s statement on Jerusalem is a threat to peace and we are against it”.

Macron also suggested that an Israeli freeze on settlement building would be an important gesture, showing Israel was committed to peace. Macron has been leading the criticism of the US decision, and rang Trump before his unilateral announcement to warn him of the likely damaging consequences for the Palestinian peace process. Since the announcement he has described Trump’s decision as regrettable.

However in uncompromising remarks unlikely to calm the ongoing crisis, Netanyahu replied by saying that the sooner Palestinians recognised the reality that Jerusalem – which is also claimed by Palestinians as the capital of their future state – is Israel’s capital the sooner there would be peace.

Netanyahu also lashed out at the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been one of the most vociferous critics of Trump’s Jerusalem move, saying he would not “take lectures” from someone who bombs Kurdish villages, supports Iran and “terrorists” in Gaza.

The Israeli prime minister is due to travel to Brussels on Monday where he will meet the EU foreign policy chief, Frederica Mogherini and hold a working breakfast with 27 EU foreign ministers.

Graphic footage of the incident in Jerusalem showed the attacker calmly handing his coat to the security guard before abruptly plunging a large knife into the guard’s chest. The attacker was pursued by a police officer and bystander before being subdued and arrested.

In Beirut, meanwhile, Lebanese security forces broke up a protest outside the heavily guarded US embassy with teargas after demonstrators pelted them with stones.

Protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, lit fires in the street and threw objects at members of the security forces who had barricaded the main road to the embassy.

Addressing the protesters, the head of the Lebanese Communist party, Hanna Gharib, declared Washington “the enemy of Palestine” the embassy “a symbol of imperialist aggression” that must be closed.

The US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital has infuriated the Arab world and upset western allies, who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks causing further unrest in the Middle East.

The Vatican on Sunday said Pope Francis was praying so that “leaders of nations” commit themselves to work to “avert a new spiral of violence” over Jerusalem. Its statement reiterated the Vatican position on “the essential need for respecting the status quo.”

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in 1967, to be occupied territory. They say the status of the city should be left to be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks. Israel says that all of Jerusalem is its capital, but Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

All the current members of the UN security Council, including the UK, came together on Friday to condemn the Trump decision.

Netanyahu was critical of EU leaders, who have also condemned the building of Israeli settlements in West Bank, as he left Israel late on Saturday.

“While I respect Europe, I am not prepared to accept a double standard from it,” said Netanyahu.

“I hear voices from there condemning President Trump’s historic statement, but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it. I am not prepared to accept this hypocrisy.”

Several rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on Thursday and Friday following Trump’s declaration, leading Israel to respond with airstrikes that killed two people.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s visit, Macron and Erdoğan spoke by telephone about a joint diplomatic approach to try and persuade the US to row back on Jerusalem.

Arab League foreign ministers met for hours on Saturday to denounce the US decision as illegitimate and unlawful, but appeared to have held back from taking any new measures.

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said Trump’s decision was “against international law and raises questions over American efforts to support peace” between Palestine and Israel.

The shift in US policy undermined Arab confidence in the Trump administration and amounted to the legalisation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, he added.

The ministers reiterated that such a move had no legal impact and was void, adding: “it deepens tension, ignites anger and threatens to plunge region into more violence and chaos.”

The ministers agreed to “demand that the United States rescind its decision on Jerusalem … and the calling on the international community to recognise the state of Palestine … with east Jerusalem as its capital,” said the statement.

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