UN Security Council sets meeting over US decision on JerusalemHeat Profit
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The UN Security Council is expected to meet on Friday for talks demanded by more than half its members in response to US president Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The eight countries, including permanent council members France and the UK, have asked António Guterres, UN secretary-general, for a briefing amid an international outcry at the US move, which was announced on Wednesday.
The EU’s top diplomat warned the Israel-Palestine conflict could descend into “even darker times”. Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, said the US announcement “has a very worrying potential impact” for peace in the region.
“It could send us backwards into even darker times than the ones we are already living in,” she said.
As anger in the Middle East grew, Palestinian militant group Hamas called for a new uprising against Israel.
“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” said Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Islamist group that controls Gaza and which has fought three wars with Israel in the past decade.
Both Hamas and Fatah, the rival Palestinian faction that controls the occupied West Bank, have called for protests. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, warned Mr Trump of the “dangerous consequences” his decision would have on the “security and stability of the region of the world” after he spoke to the US president this week.
The status of Jerusalem is hugely delicate and its fate is one of the most contentious issues of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israel regards the ancient city as its undivided capital and claims sovereignty over the whole city. But the international community views East Jerusalem as occupied land and the Palestinians consider it their future capital.
No nation has an embassy in Jerusalem. The international community’s position has long been that Jerusalem’s status should be determined by peace talks.
Mr Trump’s announcement reverses seven decades of US policy and will damage the country’s traditional role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The US president, who has vowed to broker the “ultimate deal” to end the conflict, said his move was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”.
But the fear is that the decision will scupper hopes of resurrecting the moribund peace process and risk stoking violence across the region.
Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, said on Wednesday the state department had “in concert with other federal agencies” implemented “robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions”.
On Thursday Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said many countries would follow the US in recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that contacts were under way.
“I would like to announce that we are already in contact with other countries which will issue a similar recognition,” Mr Netanyahu said in a speech at Israel’s foreign ministry. He did not name any of these countries.
European nations, China, Russia and the Arab states have all expressed concern about Mr Trump’s announcement.
Ms Mogherini said the EU would still work towards a two-state solution where Jerusalem would be the shared capital of the two states. “There is a united position among member states”, she said.
She added that she had received “strong assurances” from Mr Abbas of the Palestinian Authority that he would contain any violent reactions in the region.
After Mr Trump’s announcement, Mr Guterres told reporters that he had “consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians”.
“In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B,” Mr Guterres said. “I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations.”
The meeting of the 15-member security council was requested by France, Bolivia, Egypt, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, Britain and Uruguay.
Theresa May, UK prime minister, disagreed with Mr Trump’s decision, her spokesperson said.
French president Emmanuel Macron attacked what he branded as a “unilateral” US move. “The status of Jerusalem is a question of international security that concerns the entire international community. The status of Jerusalem must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in the framework of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations,” Mr Macron told reporters in Algiers.
“France and Europe are attached to a two-state solution — Israel and Palestine — living side by side in peace and security within recognised international borders, with Jerusalem the capital of both states,” he said.
The EU has expressed “serious concern” about the US move and the “repercussions this may have on the prospect of peace” between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The aspirations of both parties must be fulfilled and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” said an EU statement.