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Netanyahu faces pressure in Europe to restart peace talks amid Jerusalem decision

Netanyahu faces renewed pressure from Europe to reboot the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process. [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 December, 2017

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Netanyahu faces renewed pressure from Europe on Monday to reboot the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process following widespread criticism of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faces renewed pressure from Europe on Monday to reboot the moribund  peace process with Palestinians.

It follows widespread criticism of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which has led to a worldwide backlash.

The Israeli leader will be in Brussels for an informal breakfast with EU foreign ministers on Monday who will urge him to "resume meaningful negotiations", according to the bloc's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. 

The Israeli premier said what Trump had done was to "put facts squarely on the table" by acknowledging Jerusalem had been the capital of the Israeli state for 70 years and of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.

"It doesn't obviate peace, it makes peace possible, because recognising reality is the substance of peace, it's the foundation of peace," he said in a statement alongside EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini, who last week warned the Jerusalem decision could take the situation "backwards to even darker times", restated the EU's position that a two-state solution with Jerusalem as capital for both Israelis and Palestinians was the only sustainable way to resolve the conflict.

Netanyahu pointed to a new US peace initiative as a possible way forward.

The talks come after French President Emmanuel Macron met Netanyahu in Paris on Sunday and called on him to freeze settlement building and to re-engage with Palestinians following widespread protests over the US move.

Trump upended decades of US diplomacy and broke with international consensus in recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu on Sunday, Macron again condemned the decision as "contrary to international law and dangerous for the peace process".

"I urged the prime minister to show courage in his dealings with the Palestinians to get us out of the current dead end," Macron said after talks in Paris with the Israeli leader.

"Peace does not depend on the United States alone... it depends on the capacity of the two Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do so," the French leader said.

Netanyahu has praised Trump's decision as "historic" and he explained Sunday that Jerusalem "has always been our capital and it has never been the capital of any other people".

"The sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we'll move toward peace."

Before leaving Israel, Netanyahu had taken aim at what he called Europe's "hypocrisy", for condemning

Most EU members, including the bloc's biggest countries, have expressed alarm over the Trump administration's policy shift.

Trump's announcement on Wednesday has been followed by days of protests and clashes in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Four Palestinians were killed either in clashes or from Israeli airstrikes in retaliation for rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

Tens of thousands have also protested in Muslim and Arab countries, including Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Further protests were held in Lebanon, Indonesia, Egypt and the occupied Palestinian territories on Sunday.

East Jerusalem is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law.

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