Netanyahu: ‘All Countries That Seek Peace’ Should Follow Trump’s Example on Jerusalem; No Takers Yet

By Patrick Goodenough | December 7, 2017 | 4:27 AM EST

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 15, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum)

(CNSNews.com) – Welcoming President Trump’s momentous Jerusalem policy shift, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday urged other countries to follow suit, although there was little sign of any immediate steps to do so.

“I call on all countries that seek peace to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move their embassies here,” Netanyahu said, after Trump’s announcement.

The governments of Australia and Canada, two countries known for taken a sometimes lonely stand against anti-Israel sentiment at the United Nations, both indicated they will not take up the invitation.

“Canada is a steadfast ally and friend of Israel and friend to the Palestinian people,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement. “Canada’s longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.”

Her Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, said the government in Canberra does not intend to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“The Australian government remains committed and optimistic that the way to achieve enduring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is a negotiated two-state solution,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

(Three years ago Australia’s government attracted the ire of the PLO when it refused to call eastern Jerusalem “occupied” territory.)

One development Wednesday that did draw attention was a statement by the Czech foreign ministry which commentators on social media characterized as the European nation formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A closer reading showed that Prague is limiting that recognition to western Jerusalem, however.

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“The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967,” it said.

The so-called 1967 line – the 1949 armistice lines that were in place up until the June 1967 Six Day War – divided the city between the Israeli-controlled west and Jordanian-occupied east, which included the Old City and its Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

The foreign ministry said the Czech Republic, in line with E.U. policy, “considers Jerusalem to be future capital of both states, meaning the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine.”

It added that the Czech Republic could only consider moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “based on results of negotiations with key partners in the region and in the world.”

Still, the statement went further than others from Europe, which generally condemned Trump’s move.

With the exception of Ukraine, all European countries currently on the U.N. Security Council called on this month’s council president, Japan, to hold an emergency meeting in response.

In doing so Britain, France, Italy and Sweden were joined by non-European council members Egypt, Bolivia, Uruguay and Senegal. The meeting is expected to take place on Friday.

‘The gates of hell’

The international response was most harsh in the Islamic world, with reactions veering between warnings of violence and implied threats of violence.

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is home to the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site after the Ka’aba in Mecca and the Mohammed mosque in Medina, both in Saudi Arabia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling an “extraordinary” summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul next week to discuss “joint action,” his spokesman said.

The Islamist Turkish leader consulted Wednesday with the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia, Tunisia and Sudan.

His prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said Trump’s declaration has opened a “Pandora’s box” in the region

Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, considered the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, said the U.S. policy shift “threatens world peace” and warned it would open “the gates of hell, in the West before the East.”

In Tehran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the “Zionists” will be “dealt a severe blow” as a result of the decision on Jerusalem taken by “the enemies of Islam.”

“The Islamic world will definitely stand against this plot,” Khamenei told a meeting of Iranian officials and ambassadors from other Islamic countries. “Dear Palestine will be undoubtedly liberated at last.”

Condemnation also came from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Syria’s Assad regime, among others.

Salah Al-Bardawil, a leader of the Palestinian faction Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, said “the world must understand that our resistance and uprising will not show mercy to all those responsible for the oppression of the Palestinian people and their schemes that aim to distort our Palestinian history.”

In his announcement Trump acknowledged there would be “disagreement and dissent.”

“This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what it is possible; not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach,” he said.

“So today, we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”

Trump repeated a call made at the U.S.-Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh last spring for those who desire peace to drive out the extremists among them.

“It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate – not violence,” he said.


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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow