Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has abruptly cancelled a trip to France and Italy scheduled for next week.
Israeli media speculated that the cancellation was the result of tension between Israel and the European Union over the future status of Jerusalem and Netanyahu’s refusal to publicly commit to the creation of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state.
In a Jerusalem Day celebration last Thursday marking the reunification of the city in 1967, Netanyahu vowed that the Israeli capital would never again be split between two nations. The very same day, the French Foreign Ministry released a statement accusing Netanyahu of prejudicing the outcome of peace talks, and insisting that Israel must eventually surrender the eastern half of the city to the Arabs.
Netanyahu’s office said that the cancellation of his trip had nothing to do with the dispute over Jerusalem, and that both sides simply needed more time to prepare for his visit to Paris.
Washington, too, took issue with Netanyahu’s remarks, and the State Department on Sunday issued its own statement insisting that the future status of Jerusalem will be determined in bilateral negotiations, and not by unilateral declarations by Israel’s leaders.