Author: ANDREW RETTMAN
EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini has warned that if Donald Trump moves the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem it could have “serious consequences”.
“It’s very important for us all to refrain from unilateral actions, especially ones that can have serious consequences in terms of public reaction in large parts of the world,” she said on Trump’s idea in Brussels on Monday (16 January).
She said EU foreign ministers had discussed the issue and that all 28 agreed to “continue to respect” a UN resolution from 1980 that designates Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital city.
“We [the EU] will, for sure, not move our delegation that is in Tel Aviv and we hope that there can be a reflection [in the US] on the consequences of any move that is taken”, she said.
Trump, who takes office on Friday, plans to announce the Jerusalem move on 24 May, an Israeli holiday marking the 50th anniversary of its capture from Arab forces, according to US broadcaster CNN.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, had earlier attacked Trump’s “stubborn” idea at a Middle East peace conference in Paris on Sunday.
The fear in EU circles is that if the US abandons the old model of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital, it could provoke outrage in the Arab world.
The potential shift in US policy already made its mark on the EU when Britain, on Sunday, refused to join the 27 other EU states in endorsing the Paris conference declaration on the two-state model.
«The message is that two states, the state of Israel and the state of Palestine, can at last live side by side in security and peace,» Ayrault said in Brussels.
Diplomatic sources said the UK and Hungary on Monday also blocked the other 27 EU countries from issuing a formal statement endorsing that model.
Mogherini denied that this was the case, saying that “rumours” of the British veto had an “element of fantasy” about them.
She said that Monday’s talks on the Middle East were always meant to have been “informal” in nature and that all 28 countries had stood by existing EU policy.
She also said that the EU had an “autonomous” foreign policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict that would not be altered even if the US changed its mind.
Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that new negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians were «a necessity».
He added that he hoped the incoming US administraiton «goes along this path».
The foreign ministers met after Trump, in an interview with British and German newspapers, had voiced anti-EU and anti-Nato views.
“I think the European Union will stick together … I think the European Union will be OK in the future,” Mogherini said in reaction to Trump’s comment that the UK would not be the last member state to leave.
Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczcykowski, said he had spoken in New York one week ago to two members of Trump’s new White House team who had pledged ongoing allegiance to Nato.