Netanyahu pursues Jerusalem recognition in Europe

Traveling to meet European leaders, PM Netanyahu lashes out at the continent’s “hypocrisy and double standard” toward Israel.

By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set off for a two-day trip to Paris and Brussels where he is certain to hear sharp criticism of President Trump’s initiative recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Before take-off, the Israeli leader blasted European “hypocrisy” and “double standards” toward Israel and its capital.

Netanyahu said that he is not willing to tolerate some countries’ race to slam President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week. Netanyahu told reporters, “While I respect Europe, I am not prepared to accept a double standard from it. I hear voices condemning President Trump’s historic statement but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against us.” Netanyahu said that he plans to “present Israel’s truth without fear and with head held high,” when he meets European Union leaders on Monday.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival today in Paris, hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists staged an anti-Israel protest on Saturday opposing the Prime Minister’s visit. Protestors carried photos of French President Emmanuel Macron marked “accomplice” for hosting Netanyahu so soon after US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Macron has actually spearheaded international opposition to Trump’s initiative along with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. The French leader has gone so far as to say that because of Trump’s action, the United States has sidelined itself as a Middle East peacemaker and he called the move “against international law.” Macron and Erdogan say they will work together to try to persuade the United States to reconsider the decision, a Turkish presidential source said on Saturday.

The ‘generosity of the victor’

Former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told World Israel News (WIN) that in the aftermath of Trump’s speech Israel should play things low-key. “We must show the generosity of the victor,” said Ayalon, adding, “We must allay the fears of the Palestinians about how this impacts the diplomatic process. We must assure them that Trump’s declaration is not an impediment and will not determine future borders. Even a US embassy in Jerusalem does not remove prospects for a two-state solution.”

Ayalon did caution the Palestinians, “Time is not on their side. Intransigence and an all or nothing attitude is not useful. From an objective point of view nothing has changed, except that the US recognizes the factual reality that Jerusalem is already the Israeli capital.”

In an effort to avoid exacerbating matters for the Americans and possibly angering the White House, Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed the coalition to postpone the final vote on amendment to the basic law on that would require a special two-third’s majority in the Knesset before any Israeli leader could concede parts of Jerusalem in potential peace talks.

The vote was due to take place on Monday, but it will now wait until after US Vice President Mike Pence visits Israel and addresses the Knesset on December 18.

Palestinians to boycott VP Pence’s visit

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is heading efforts to cement international opposition to the Trump initiative in the UN and the Arab League. Officials in Ramallah announced that Abbas will not meet with US Vice President Mike Pence later this month in Bethlehem. His office released a statement reading, “There will not be a meeting with Pence. The matter is bigger than a mere meeting because the United States, in its decisions on Jerusalem, crossed red lines.”

A White House aide said Pence “still plans to meet with Abbas as scheduled” and “believes it would be counterproductive for him to pull out of the meeting.” On Friday, the PA president said the US was “no longer qualified to sponsor the peace process.”

Ayalon told WIN, “The Palestinians are being childish if they plan to boycott a meeting with Pence.” Pointing out Palestinian reliance on American aid, Ayalon said, “It’s just biting the hand that feeds you.”

Palestinian affairs expert Dr. Gershon Baskin told WIN, “Abbas cannot meet Pence at this time, but I expect that the Palestinians will continue with ongoing contacts in Washington. In the meantime, he will also push the anti-Israel and anti-Trump line diplomatically in the UN Security Council. At some point Abbas could accept an invitation to visit the White House, but only if he feels assured that there is a real development to discuss.