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23 Dec, 2017 01:59

Netanyahu claims more states ‘seriously considering’ relocating embassies to Jerusalem

Netanyahu claims more states ‘seriously considering’ relocating embassies to Jerusalem

Several states are “seriously considering” moving their embassies to Jerusalem, the Israeli PM has claimed, while Palestinians continue to desperately protest the US' controversial recognition of the Holy City as Israel's capital.

“We’re now talking to several countries who are seriously considering saying exactly the same thing as the United States and moving their embassies to Jerusalem,” Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN, refusing to disclose the specific countries. “I could tell you that, but I won’t, because I want it to succeed and I think there’s a good chance it will.”

And while Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital was widely condemned throughout the world, a few Eastern European politicians did voice support for the US stance on Jerusalem, after Israel urged other nations to follow the American example. Others, however, including Turkey and China, called on other states to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to the sacred city. “Israel rejects the UN decision and, in parallel, expresses satisfaction at the large number of states that did not vote for the resolution, countries that Prime Minister Netanyahu has visited in Europe, Africa and Latin America,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said after the vote.

The UNGA vote followed the US veto of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution Monday. All other UNSC members voted in favor of a motion to rescind Donald Trump’s move.

While Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, the international community insists the status of the city can only be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians. Yet, when asked Friday about Trump’s declaration, Netanyahu simply said it was a recognition of a “historical truth.”

“Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years from the time of King David. It has been the capital of the state of Israel for 70 years, and it’s about time that the United States said — and I’m glad they said it — ‘This is the capital and we recognize it,’ and I think that’s going to be followed by other countries,” Netanyahu told CNN.

Interestingly enough, Russia also partially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April, but made very clear, that it did so, only in the context of a two-state solution to the long running conflict. “We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the foreign ministry announcement read.

With such careful and unambiguous wording, Moscow's staement was welcomed by the Arab world with no violence following the pronouncement. Trump, in contrast, was vague in his statement, announcing only that Washington “officially recognize[s] Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” without specifying whether or not it was the Eastern part or the Western part of the city.

The US has a Consulate General already operational in West Jerusalem, and moving the embassy there could be as simple as swapping the logos on the diplomatic buildings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Yet, Trump set no specific timeline for the embassy move – which will likely require additional security measures – only saying the State Department has started “preparations” and will be “hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”

While the move might be years away, Palestinians are already rising up against America's “tribute of peace” across the Israeli-occupied territories. The ongoing Israeli crackdown on protests has been brutal, with live ammunition and rubber bullets fired to suppress Palestinian rage. The excessive use of force, which has been condemned by the UN, persists, despite thousands of injuries and over a dozen reported deaths, including a disabled person confined to wheelchair.

At least two Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip and at least 123 others injured by live ammunition and rubber bullets in clashes with Israeli forces on Friday alone. Clashes also erupted in Jerusalem and in the West Bank on the third 'Friday of Rage’, after repeated calls by Hamas to continue the Palestinian struggle. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar Thursday urged for a “bloody day of rage so that we will bring down Trump’s stupid decision.”

READ MORE: ‘Where else?’ Netanyahu cites Bible to justify Trump’s Jerusalem move, urges EU to follow suit

The dispute over Jerusalem dates back to 1947, when a UN partition plan called for the creation of two independent states for Jews and Palestinians. The city of Jerusalem, which is holy for Christians, Muslims and Jews, was to be given special international status. However, the plan was never implemented, as war broke out in the region. Israel seized East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War with Arab states and declared the entire city its undivided capital in 1980. The US embassy, as well as other foreign missions, are currently located in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic and diplomatic capital.