Key US lawmaker chides EU over Jerusalem

WASHINGTON - European Union members should join "responsible nations" in opposing any plan to recognize Arab east Jerusalem as capital of a future Palestinian state, a key US lawmaker said Monday.
"Any move to divide Jerusalem would undermine our ally Israel, deal a blow to religious freedom, and undercut the cause of peace," said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
"Responsible nations must acknowledge this reality, recognize undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and move their respective embassies to Jerusalem," she said in a statement.
Ros-Lehtinen wrote a letter underlining that message to each EU member state's foreign minister ahead of a European Union summit at the end of the week, as staunch US ally Israel condemned any support for dividing Jerusalem.
In a first draft of a statement drawn up for the summit, Europe's leaders spoke in favor of "a viable state of Palestine comprising the West Bank and Gaza and with east Jerusalem as its capital."
Such wording angered Israel whose foreign ministry said it harmed Europe's ability to play a mediating role in the Middle East.
A new version of the draft text, seen by AFP Monday, drops the explicit reference to east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
"Like any other sovereign, democratic state, Israel has the right to designate its own capital -- Jerusalem," said Ros-Lehtinen in a statement.
Israel considers Jerusalem to be its indivisible and eternal capital.
Some US lawmakers have mounted a fresh push for Washington to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step technically required under a 1995 US law that gives the US president special powers to waive the move.

Monday, December 7th 2009

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