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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Israel gears to fight Swedish initiative


Senior political sources call Stockholm's attempt to have east Jerusalem declared capital of future Palestinian state 'underhanded move,' say majority of EU members are against it

Roni Sofer Published: 12.07.09, 08:04 / Israel News




A senior political source defined Monday Sweden's attempt to declare Jerusalem the capital of Palestine as an "underhanded move by Stockholm, a mere moment before its term as head of the European Union is over. We are making efforts to thwart this move at the highest diplomatic levels."




The European Union's foreign ministers are scheduled to convene in Brussels later Monday, ahead of the EU meet scheduled to take place in the city on December 10.



Politics

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The agenda for the second day of the conference is said to include the Balkans, the Middle East peace process and Iran.



As part of the discussion about the Middle East, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is expected to put forward a pro-Palestinian motion which includes an article declaring east Jerusalem the capital of the future Palestinian state.



Such a declaration would radicalize the EU's traditional stance, calling for Jerusalem to become the capital of both Israel and Palestine.



Sweden's new stance has enraged Israel: The Foreign Ministry launched extensive diplomatic efforts to counter the move, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have discussed the matter with their colleagues.



Jerusalem sources would not venture a guess as to the EU conference's final decision at this point, but senior political sources said that the majority of the 27 European representatives were against such an extreme move by the EU, especially where Jerusalem is concerned.



According to the sources, those opposing the decision have accepted Israel's position stating that this is not the time to make any statements which may discourage the Palestinians from resuming peace talks.



"This is an underhanded move by Sweden, as its term as EU president draws to an end and in light of the strained diplomatic relations with Israel," a source at the Foreign Ministry said.



"We were not taken by surprise," added the source. "After all, this is still a traditional European position, even if an extreme one."




Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon added that "the Europeans will not dictate the results of the (Israeli-Palestinian) peace process. The Swedish initiative is dangerous and it may hinder the efforts to resume negotiations by radicalizing the Palestinian stand.



"This initiative is also against the principles of the international community and the Quartet's decision calling on both sides to hold direct negotiations."

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