European countries blast US embassy move to Jerusalem

European countries blast US embassy move to Jerusalem

Turkey calls relocation ‘legally null and void;’ Ireland says it ‘inflames a very tense situation’; Netherlands terms it ‘unwise’

European foreign ministries on Monday slammed the US decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying it violates international law, is unwise and is likely to exacerbate tensions, shortly before the embassy’s dedication ceremony began in Jerusalem.

Turkey’s foreign ministry called the action “null and void” and “illegitimate.”

“We strongly condemn the decision… violating international law and all relevant UN resolutions,” it said in a statement. “We reiterate that this action is legally null and void. We emphasize that such a step which disregards the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people will not serve peace, security and stability in the region.

“By insisting on this attitude, the US administration has damaged the basis for a solution of the most basic issue in the Middle East,” Ankara charged. “The US administration will be fully responsible for the repercussions of the said decision which runs the risk of eroding the parameters established during the peace process.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called Monday for all parties to “act responsibly to prevent a new flareup” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as bloody clashes raged on the Israeli border with Gaza, with Palestinians engaging in a violent culmination of weeks of protests.

“France calls again for Israeli authorities to act with caution and restraint in the use of force, which must be strictly proportional,” Le Drian said in a statement on the conflict’s bloodiest day in years.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that the move “is inflaming already a very tense situation, and the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.”

His Dutch counterpart, Stef Blok, said, “We don’t consider it a wise decision to move the embassy.”

Their comments come after the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania blocked the full 28-nation European Union from publishing a statement condemning the US move.

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Earlier Monday, US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace negotiator said the move was a “necessary condition” to a lasting peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Jason Greenblatt wrote on Twitter that “the long-overdue step of moving our Embassy is not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal.”

In a series of tweets, Greenblatt said that the embassy move should not change Palestinian-US relations.

“As the President stated in December, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is simply a recognition of reality. Israel is a sovereign nation, and like every other sovereign nation, it has the right to determine its own capital,” Greenblatt wrote.

An American flag flowerbed planted next to the compound of the US consulate in Jerusalem, which will host the new US embassy on May 13, 2018, AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI

“Thank you POTUS for your bold, courageous and historic decision!” he concluded.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat blasted the Trump administration ahead of the embassy move, saying Trump had violated a promise to hold off on moving the embassy to give peace talks a chance and that his administration was “based on lies.”

Erekat said the Trump administration has “become part of the problem, not part of the solution.” He indicated that Trump’s Mideast team was unqualified, saying “the world needs real leaders, and those [White House officials] are real estate dealers, not leaders.”

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as US Vice President Mike Pence looks on, at the White House, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

He also called the embassy move a “hostile act against international law.”

Delighting the Israeli government, but angering Palestinians who claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state, Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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