Macron, Netanyahu Disagree About Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the new French President, Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, amidst the American government's controversial decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
While Macron has been critical of the move, Netanyahu made his opinions on the matter plain: “Paris is the capital of France, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel."
He added that "it has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and the capital of the Jewish state for 70 years."
While agreeing to disagree, Macron said that the decision of American President Donald Trump “unilaterally recognized something that is not complying with the international law.”
He also asked Netanyahu to "give peace a chance" by offering the Palestinians a settlement freeze or some other concession in order to alleviate tensions.
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, has denounced the decision and declared three "Days of Rage" last week. However, while tensions remain high and there has been a slight increase in skermishes (including a protest that resulted in two deaths), the widespread violence that many expected has not occurred.
Considered the holiest city in Judaism and the third holiest by many Muslims, Jerusalem has been a sticking point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. Israel declared it to be the nation's capital in 1949, even though Jordan had taken control of half of the city and exiled its Jewish residents. Israel won complete control during the Six-Day War of 1967, but Palestinians still maintain that Jerusalem (or the half formerly controlled by Jordan) will be the capital of its future state.
Most nations house their Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv, the financial hub and second largest city in the country. Trump's decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem could thus prove a sea change in diplomatic relations.
The American government has characterized the decision as simply an acknowledgement of reality. Netanyahu gave that his own spin, saying that peace cannot come until the historical and present facts about Israel's rights to Jerusalem are acknowledged.
During the two leaders' press conference, Netanyahu also addressed the disapproving comments of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, with whom Israel has had shaky relations. Erdogan said that “We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children."
Netanyahu was dismissive, saying that he will not be lectured by someone who supports terrorism, bombs Kurdish villages and jails journalists.
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