'Don't call Jerusalem Palestinian capital'
The Jerusalem Post (Link) - Herb Keinon (December 1, 2009)
Sweden's attempts to insert language into an EU resolution on the Middle East that would recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state harms European efforts to play a significant part in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued Tuesday morning.
The statement followed a Haaretz report that the Swedes were pushing a resolution that will be discussed at a monthly meeting of EU ministers next week in Brussels that would officially call for the division of Jerusalem.
According to the Foreign Ministry statement, there is nothing new in the resolution.
However, as one Israeli diplomatic official pointed out, what is maddening from an Israeli view point is that the call for east Jerusalem to be the capital of an independent Palestinian state is not coupled with a call to recognize west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"This disrupts the balance," the official said, adding that the resolution is being pushed forward by the Swedes, who hold the rotating presidency of the EU, without any prior coordination with Israel.
The official pointed out that since taking over the presidency in July, Swedish Foreign Minster Carl Blidt has not visited Israel once. He was scheduled to come in September, but his visit was cancelled following angry Israeli reactions to the Aftonbladet newspaper article that accused Israeli soldiers of harvesting Palestinian organs.
Kadima and opposition leader Tzipi Livni backed the foreign ministry's stance on what she termed an erroneous, ineffective resolution later on Tuesday.
In a letter to Bildt, she conveyed "deep concern regarding what appears to be an attempt to prejudge the outcome of issues reserved for final status negotiations."
European efforts to "dictate for either party the nature of the outcome on the status of Jerusalem," she said, "would only serve to endanger the fulfillment of "our shared vision of two states for two peoples into a reality."
The Foreign Ministry statement said that after the significant steps that Israel has taken to enable the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians, a reference to the recent declaration of a moratorium on new housing starts in the West Bank, "the Europeans should be pressuring the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table. These types of moves being led by Sweden bring about the opposite result."