President Donald Trump has reversed decades of United States policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in defiance of warnings from around the world that the gesture risks creating further unrest in the Middle East.
The Swiss-Palestine SocietyExternal link condemned the decision, saying it was “tantamount to a definitive recognition of an Israeli annexation of Jerusalem”.
In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said his administration would begin a process of moving the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years.
The status of Jerusalem – home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions – is one of the thorniest obstacles to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.
The Swiss-Palestine Society added that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would violate a resolution of the United Nations Security Council and would contravene international law.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that there was no alternative to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and that Jerusalem was a final-status issue that should be resolved through direct talks.
“I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
The Swiss foreign ministry told the Swiss News Agency it had taken note of the US decision. It said Switzerland’s official reaction would be transmitted to the US embassy in Bern on Thursday morning and it would be made public after that.
The Swiss embassy in IsraelExternal link is in Tel Aviv.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark” and urged other countries to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem. He said any peace deal with Palestinians must include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Palestinians have said Trump’s move would mean the “kiss of death” to the two-state solution, envisaging a Palestinian state in territory – the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – that Israel took in 1967.
For its part, the European Union expressed serious concern on Wednesday, saying Trump’s decision could have repercussions for peace prospects.
“The aspirations of both parties must be fulfilled and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not support Trump’s “unilateral” decision to and called for calm across the region.
“This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Macron told reporters at a news conference in Algiers.
Pope Francis called for Jerusalem’s status quo to be respected, saying new tension would further inflame world conflicts. China and Russia expressed concern the plans could aggravate Middle East hostilities. A Palestinian envoy said the decision was a declaration of war in the Middle East.
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