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1ST LEAD Netanyahu: Recognizing Jerusalem as capital makes peace possible By Emoke Bebiak, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a statement of reality that makes finding a solution to the Middle East conflict possible, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday ahead of a meeting with European Union foreign ministers.

Netanyahu‘s visit to Brussels - the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to the EU in 22 years - comes after US President Donald Trump‘s controversial move Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Jerusalem is Israel‘s capital, no one can deny that," Netanyahu said. "It doesn‘t obviate peace - it makes peace possible, because recognizing reality is the substance of peace."

He said that, with the most important Israeli government offices located in the city, it was "clearly evident" that Jerusalem was the capital.

"What President Trump has done is put facts squarely on the table," Netanyahu said.

He also noted that the US was working on a new peace proposal, adding, "I think we should give peace a chance."

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said it was time to relaunch peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, noting that the "only realistic solution" was based on recognizing two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.

"The worst thing that can happen now is an escalation of tensions, of violence - first of all around the holy places, but also in the region and beyond," Mogherini said.

Last week, she reacted to Trump‘s announcement, saying it had a "very worrying potential impact," given its "very fragile context."

Mogherini said the EU was intent on relaunching peace talks, noting that she had invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a meeting with EU foreign ministers in January.

Alan Duncan, British minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said that Britain did "not agree" with Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital because the issue should be included in negotiations about the final status of the city.

"In particular, of course, Jerusalem is divided between east and west - and East Jerusalem is most certainly not part of Israel," Duncan said.

Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital with the establishment of the state in 1948. However, the city remained divided between West Jerusalem, controlled by Israel, and East Jerusalem, controlled by Jordan.

In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem, now home to over 300,000 Palestinians, and later annexed the territory in a move that was not internationally recognized.


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