EU says Jerusalem should be capital of two states

The new EU foreign affairs chief says a Palestinian state is needed to prevent a repeat of this year’s Gaza war

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Jerusalem “should be the capital of two states,” the European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini said Saturday as tensions escalate.

“I think Jerusalem can be and should be the capital of two states,” Mogherini told reporters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, touching on a sensitive issue that has blocked peace efforts for decades.

Her appeal, at a joint news conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, came hours after the killing of an Arab-Israeli by police fanned tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

In reaction, thousands of Israeli Arabs took to the streets in an angry protest after video footage showed police fatally shooting the 22-year-old Arab who appeared to be retreating when he was shot dead.

The shooting in northern Israel came after another night of clashes in east Jerusalem between youths hurling stones and firecrackers at police, who retaliated with rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.

The violence has spiked as Israel has pushed ahead with its policy to build Jewish settlements on lands the Palestinians want for a future state and against the background of efforts by Jewish extremists to secure rights to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

“Jerusalem is not just a beautiful city, the challenge is to show that Jerusalem can be shared in peace and respect,” said Mogherini.

“The message is not for the people who live here, the message is to the rest of the world,” she said.

“It is not a Palestinian-Israeli situation, it is a global issue.”

Mogherini lent support Saturday to Palestinian statehood efforts and said it was needed to prevent a repeat of this year’s Gaza war.

"We need a Palestinian state -- that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union," Mogherini said during a short trip to Gaza, devastated by its third conflict in six years. The world “cannot afford” another war in Gaza, she said.

Mogherini’s statement follow Sweden’s official recognition of the state of Palestine last month, becoming the first EU member in western Europe to do so. The move was criticized by Israel and described as ‘premature’ by the United States.

Hamas and Israel fought a 50-day war in July and August which resulted in the deaths of 2,140 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis.

Mogherini voiced hope that Gaza would avoid another major conflict.

"It is not only the people of Gaza that can't afford having a fourth war, all the world cannot afford this," she said.

"We cannot just sit and wait. If we sit and wait it will go on for another 40 years. We have to have action now," said Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister who recently took over from Catherine Ashton as the top EU diplomat.

Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem as the capital.

Asked whether the EU might recognize Palestine as Sweden had, Mogherini said that such a move was "not among the competences" of the 28-nation bloc.

(With AFP)

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