The European Union’s new foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, visited the region over the weekend and insisted on the urgent need for a Palestinian state with the eastern half of Jerusalem as its capital.
“We need a Palestinian state - that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union,” said Mogherini while in the Gaza Strip, adding later during her stop in Ramallah that “Jerusalem can be and should be the capital of two states.”
Mogherini said that establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is a “global” objective, and that Israel is obstructing this important and worthy goal by continuing to allow Jews to live in areas claimed by the Palestinian Arabs, in particular on the eastern side of Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by once again stating that “Jerusalem is our capital and as such is not a settlement.”
Speaking to reporters ahead of his own meeting with Mogherini, Netanyahu stressed that “the neighborhoods in which we are living…and we’ve been building, have been there for close to 50 years… Everybody knows that in any peace arrangement they will remain part of Israel.”
Indeed, the issue of Jerusalem remains perhaps the largest stumbling block to international efforts to conclude a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A firm majority of Israeli Jews insist that after millennia of longing for a return to Jerusalem, the city must never again be divided, while Palestinian leaders say they won’t accept any peace deal that doesn’t give them control of half the city, including the Old City and Temple Mount.
PHOTO: Netanyahu and Mogherini face off in Jerusalem