ECI welcomes US embassy move to Jerusalem – Time for Europe to recognise reality

Embassy moveBrussels, May 14th, 2018 – European Coalition for Israel welcomes the timely US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which will take place today Monday and coincide with the 70th anniversary of the declaration of independence of the modern State of Israel, according to the Gregorian calendar. In a diplomatic ceremony which will be attended by American and Israeli dignitaries in Jerusalem on Monday, the former US Consulate to Israel will be transformed in to an official US Embassy whilst the new facilities will be constructed in the coming years.

In an official ceremony at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Sunday, diplomats from 33 countries attended the historic event to mark the move. However, missing from the official reception were all but four of the EU member states. From Eastern Europe, those attending were Hungary, Romania and Czech, who last week prevented a joint EU statement to condemn the embassy move. The only Western European EU member state to join the reception was Austria. Other European countries who attended the reception were Albania, Georgia, Macedonia and Serbia.

In a statement on Monday ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell applauded the courageous stand of the four EU member states and the four non-EU member states who expressed their support for Israel by attending the reception. He called on more European governments to follow their example.

“It is regrettable that the European Union, led by Germany, Britain and France, are boycotting this historic event. By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the United States is simply accepting a 3000-year old reality, that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people. Jerusalem is today unique in the whole Middle East in that it allows for all its inhabitants the freedom to pray and worship in peace. Only in Jerusalem can Jews, Christians and Muslims pray side by side at their holy sites whereas the rest of the region continues to suppress its minorities. These rights were implemented only after Israel had liberated East Jerusalem in 1967 and made the whole of Jerusalem its capital. This is a policy which should be fully supported by the European Union and not undermined by boycotts and threats.”

Sandell pointed out that the US declaration on 6th December 2017 to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel leaves many of the most contested issues open to final status negotiations.

The fact that the diplomatic reception on Sunday was attended by a total of 33 countries and that a growing number of nations are considering a similar embassy move shows that Israel is not isolated. Later in the week the Guatemalan embassy will cut the ribbons to its new embassy in Jerusalem and shortly after the Embassy of Paraguay will open its doors in the Israeli capital.

Whilst the official European Union policy is not to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, on Saturday night its citizens chose the Israeli song “Toy” as the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. When the performer Netta Barzilai thanked the audience for their support she shouted, “I love my country (Israel), next time in Jerusalem”! The Israeli victory means that the Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted in Jerusalem in 2019.

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