U.S. President Donald Trump, right, listens while Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli’s prime minister, speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg)  

Netanyahu Faces Ire During EU Trip Over Trump's Jerusalem Step

(Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a chilly reception this week when he travels to the European Union in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Netanyahu, who has urged other countries to follow Trump’s lead on the contested holy city, is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Dec. 10 and foreign ministers from the 28-nation EU in Brussels the following day.

Macron said Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement “contravenes all rules of international law.” EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said the U.S. step “has a very worrying potential impact,” raising the prospect of more violence in the Middle East.

“The announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in,” Mogherini, who will chair the Brussels meeting on Monday, told reporters on Dec. 7. “This difficult moment calls for an even stronger engagement for peace.”

The Netanyahu trip risks funneling longstanding EU frustration with perceived hard-line Israeli positions toward the Palestinians and suspicions by Israel of a pro-Arab bias in Europe into the political dispute over Jerusalem sparked by Trump, who was fulfilling an election-campaign pledge.

The comments by Mogherini on Thursday prompted the Israeli Foreign Ministry to retort that she was creating unrealistic expectations for the Palestinians as they press for statehood with Jerusalem as their capital. Mogherini maintained her line on Friday during an appearance in Brussels with Jordan’s foreign minister and signaled the EU won’t mince its words with Netanyahu.

“We will have the opportunity to reiterate to him our strong position on this,” she said.

Standing alongside Mogherini, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi called Trump’s decision “very dangerous.” At a separate event up the street in Brussels on Friday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said the U.S. step threatens to undermine Israeli security by stirring Middle East tensions and making a peace accord even more elusive.

“I don’t think this move will serve Israel’s interest,” Simsek told a European Policy Centre audience. “Certainly it doesn’t help with the peace prospects.”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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