December 9, 2009
Newspapers throughout the Midlle East are reporting today on the EU declaration that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and the yet-to-be established Palestinian State. BBC News is reporting that this is causing mixed reactions, even in the media.
Commentators in Israel say the country "dodged a bullet" when the proposal from the EU that East Jerusalem be recognised as the future Palestinian capital was rejected. One commentator urges Israel's leaders to act quickly to quell any momentum that the statement may grant to the Palestinian cause.
Quoting Gideon Samet in Israel's Ma'Ariv: "The European community is fed up waiting for peace talks. The draft proposal was softened at the last minute, but remains a clear signal of the change in the international attitude to settlements in the [West] Bank. When the Palestinian initiative for unilateral independence is rolled out most of the countries of the world will recognise it. The United States cannot prevent this becoming an international fact even if it vetoes such a resolution at the [UN] Security Council. "
Similarly, quoting Herb Kenon in theJerusalem Post, "The bottom line is that Israel very much dodged a bullet... Had the Swedish resolution been adopted the language would probably have seeped into debates at the UN Security Council, making Israel's diplomatic situation more difficult than it already is... In the absence of Israeli initiatives or any real movement, other actors will put forward their own initiatives which may be deleterious to Israeli interests. "
Palestinian Al-Ayyam writer Hani Habib took a different tack on the ability of Israel to prevent direct designation of East Jerusalem as the future Palestinian Capital, saying, "Although Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed his disappointment with the final statement issued by the EU's foreign ministers on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, we think Israel was somewhat successful in redrafting Sweden's draft proposal... It is true that this decision is a Palestinian gain in one way or another, but it has not added anything new."
Generally, newspapers in the Middle East agree that Palestinians stand to benefit from a joint EU statement calling for Jerusalem to serve as the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state, noted the BBC News item. Commentators in Israel say the country "dodged a bullet" when the proposal from the EU that East Jerusalem be recognised as the future Palestinian capital was rejected. One commentator urges Israel's leaders to act quickly to quell any momentum that the statement may grant to the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian press welcome the statement as positive yet flawed - viewing the softening of its language as a concession to Israel. This sentiment is echoed by one Pan-Arab commentator who argues that Arab support for the Swedish proposal should have been more robust.
Nir Barkat the mayor of Jerusalem completely rejected the EU decision, according to a statement issued by his office late Tuesday. The statement quoted Barkat as saying that the decision posed "real danger" for the future of Jerusalem, and that it would "never work." The mayor noted that the recent celebration of the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Berlin reminds everyone that no divided city in the history of the world has functioned properly.