Jerusalem - Only dialogue and multilateralism can lead to peace

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders regrets with some bitterness of the decision of the American President to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. Belgian diplomacy, much as the rest of the world, had sent signals that this was not the right solution. This message was renewed when State Secretary Rex Tillerson was in Brussels this week.

Jerusalem is ideally destined to become the shared capital of two sovereign States. Any decision on its status depends on negotiations between the parties involved. The announcement made yesterday goes against international law and prejudges the outcome of these negotiations, even if it must be underlined that President Trump reaffirmed the American will for a two-State solution. It risks also to lead to outbursts of violence and to encourage only extremist groups, at the expense of moderate forces. Minister Reynders calls on all parties to remain calm. Belgium, together with its European partners, will continue to denounce any unilateral act which goes against a negotiated solution with two States living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.

It is only through resuming dialogue, and not by taking unilateral decisions, that we will be able to progress towards peace. This must be done within the appropriate fora, and in particular at the United Nations. The European Union (EU) is Israel’s largest trade partner and the most important funding partner of the Palestinian Authority. The EU can therefore play an important role to help parties to resume dialogue.

Minister Reynders will raise the situation in the Middle-East next Monday with his colleagues the European ministers of Foreign Affairs, as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected in Brussels. The President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas will be received in January.