Friday 19 January 2018

Simon Coveney objects to Trump's plan to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Tanaiste Simon Coveney . Photo: Gerry Mooney
Tanaiste Simon Coveney . Photo: Gerry Mooney
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has objected to the US Embassy about President Donald Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mr Trump’s move comes despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition and would upend decades of US policy and risk potentially violent protests.

Later today the President will instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

There are major concerns that the US decision could have dangerous consequences and spark conflict in the region.

Read more: Explainer: How Donald Trump's decision on Jerusalem could have deep repercussions

The US has never endorsed the Jewish state's claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and has insisted its status be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.

In a tweet today, Mr Coveney revealed that he contacted the US Embassy directly yesterday “to express Ireland’s strong concerns and to urge USA not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s a capital this week”.

He added that Mr Trump’s expected announcement “will make progress in the Middle East Peace Process more difficult and provoke tensions across the region”.

It remains unclear when Mr Trump might take that physical step of moving the Embassy, which is required by US law but has been waived on national security grounds for more than two decades.

The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalised first.

Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least three or four years, presuming there is no future change in US policy.

The move could be viewed as America discarding its longstanding neutrality and siding with Israel at a time that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been trying to broker a new peace process into existence.

Mr Trump, too, has spoken of his desire for a "deal of the century" that would end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

US officials, along with an outside adviser to the administration, said they expected a broad statement from Mr Trump about Jerusalem's status as the "capital of Israel."

Within the Mr Trump's administration, officials on Tuesday fielded a flood of warnings from allied governments.

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the head of the Arab League, urged the US to reconsider any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, warning of "repercussions."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament such recognition was a "red line" and that Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he reminded Mr Trump in a phone call Monday that Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations on setting up an independent Palestine alongside Israel.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said actions undermining peace efforts "must be absolutely avoided."

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