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German, French envoys said to have boycotted US embassy’s July 4 Jerusalem event

Report says ambassadors didn’t want to attend celebration since their countries don’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and embassy is located on disputed site

(L-R) US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US Embassy in Israel Charge D'affaires Michael Ratney at the US Embassy's Independence Day celebration on July 5, 2021. (Ziv Sokolov/US Embassy in Jerusalem)
(L-R) US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US Embassy in Israel Charge D'affaires Michael Ratney at the US Embassy's Independence Day celebration on July 5, 2021. (Ziv Sokolov/US Embassy in Jerusalem)

The ambassadors of Germany and France boycotted the US Embassy in Jerusalem’s annual Fourth of July celebrations earlier this month because the countries do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a report said Tuesday.

An unnamed source, said to be close to the matter and whose nationality was not disclosed, was cited by the Ynet news site as saying half of the European ambassadors had been invited to the event, adding that those who attended included a number of envoys including the Romanian ambassador and the British deputy ambassador, as well as representatives from Kosovo, Australia, Norway, Honduras, Guatemala and Canada.

It was not clarified which other envoys from European nations had been invited but had chosen not to attend.

Ynet noted that part of the US embassy site is in a “no man’s land” between East Jerusalem and the rest of the capital that is claimed by the Palestinians — a demilitarized zone that was controlled by the UN, between Israel and the Jordanian-occupied West Bank, from 1948 to 1967.

An undetermined portion of the new embassy site is located between the two armistice lines drawn by hand in 1949 by Israeli and Jordanian military commanders, at the end of the War of Independence. Small differences between the two lines created areas that weren’t under the control of either side. A 2018 New York Times report quoted an unnamed UN official as saying that any part between the lines would be considered “occupied territory” since Israel took full control of the area in the Six Day War in 1967.

A spokesperson for the US embassy told The Times of Israel that they do not comment on the invitation lists of their diplomatic events.

The French embassy refused to comment, while the German embassy told Ynet that “our position on Jerusalem has not changed.”

In a move welcomed by Israel and opposed by the Palestinians, the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and then moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018. US President Joe Biden has said he does not plan on moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 2nd left, his wife Sara Netanyahu, left, Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner 3rd left, US President’s daughter Ivanka Trump, center, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, right, and President Reuven Rivlin, 2nd right, attend the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP)

Then-US ambassador David Friedman was the first to hold an Independence Day event in Jerusalem, marking the 2019 holiday with a celebration at the International Convention Center. There was no gala event held in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attended this year’s event, where he vowed to prevent Israel from being used as a partisan issue in the United States, as the new Israeli government works to restore ties with the Democratic Party, which have become frayed in recent years.

“I’ll challenge any attempt to make America a partisan political issue in Israel and any attempt to make Israel a partisan political issue in the United States,” Bennett said in his remarks at the celebration.

Also addressing the event was embassy charges d’affairs Michael Ratney, who was dispatched to Jerusalem last month to head the mission until a full-time ambassador is approved by Congress.

Biden’s nominee for the post, former State Department deputy secretary Thomas Nides, is expected to face a Senate confirmation hearing in the coming weeks.

Jacob Magid and Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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