TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s “historic” recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “makes peace possible,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.
“President Trump’s announcement was so historic and so important for peace,” Netanyahu said at a joint press conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Jerusalem has never been the capital of any other people. I think the sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we’ll move towards peace,” the prime minister said.
“There is an effort, continually in UN forums, UNESCO and elsewhere to deny the millennial connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. It’s absurd. You can read it in a very fine book, it’s called the Bible. You can read it after the Bible,” he added. “You can hear it in the history of Jewish communities throughout our diaspora, ‘Next year in Jerusalem, next year in Jerusalem.'”
Netanyahu also thanked Macron for condemning the uptick in violence since Trump’s announcement.
“You are indeed a friend. I welcome the condemnations that you just expressed against the terror attacks against Israel and Israelis. They’re always inexcusable,” he said.
Meanwhile, the EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said during a joint press conference with Netanyahu that “the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”
She condemned “all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world.”
“Let me condemn in the strongest possible way all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world, including in Europe, and on Israel and on Israeli citizens,” Mogherini said.
Netanyahu is on a two-day trip to Paris and Brussels where he will meet with 28 European foreign ministers. Ahead of his journey, the Israeli leader slammed his European counterparts for their “hypocrisy” following Trump’s announcement.
“I ascribe great importance to Europe. While I respect Europe, I am not prepared to accept a double standard from it,” he said. “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, and as usual at this important forum, I will present Israel’s truth without fear and with head held high,” Netanyahu added.
Violence has erupted in the region and the Muslim world since Trump’s announcement. Terror group Hamas said Trump’s move was a “declaration of war” and called for an Intifada. On Friday, a barrage of rockets was launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip, most of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. One of the rockets was later found in a kindergarten’s yard in the southern town of Sderot, but caused no injuries.
Israeli airstrikes took out two Hamas terrorists.
On Sunday morning, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed a security guard in Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station, critically wounding him.
Macron had expressed France’s “disapproval” of Trump’s Jerusalem move, while his foreign minister said the move effectively “excluded” the U.S. from the peace process. Macron was also reported to have been in talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on how to counter the move.
Mogherini said Trump’s announcement had “the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.”
However, some countries expressed support for the move. Czech President Milos Zeman on Saturday blasted European countries as “cowards” in their response to Trump’s declaration, and further accused the Palestinian leadership of being a terrorist movement.
“The European Union, cowards, are doing all they can so a pro-Palestinian terrorist movement can have supremacy over a pro-Israeli movement,” said Zeman. Last week, Zeman said he was in favor of moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Hungary on Thursday also refused to be included in a joint European statement condemning Trump’s move.