US on EU: J'lem to be negotiated in final-status agreement
Noses are wrinkled in Washington to European foreign minister's communiqué calling on Jerusalem to be divided between Israel and Palestinian state. Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley: Our position on Jerusalem is clear, and we believe it's final-status issue
Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley said Tuesday in response: "We are aware of the EU statement, but our position on Jerusalem is clear. We believe that is a final-status issue. This is best addressed inside a formal negotiation among the parties directly."
The United States, the EU, and others certainly recognize the importance of getting back to negotiation. And we all have our differing views on the emotional and complex issues that are at the heart of this challenge," said Crowley, reiterating the Obama administration's stance.
Crowley noted that the US' current focus is "to see what we can do to try to encourage the parties, all of them, to move beyond kind of the cul-de-sac that we find ourselves in and to continue to refocus on the future and see what we can do to get the process moving forward again."
The EU minister's resolution, which was significantly softened from the original Swedish proposal, said that Europe is concerned by the situation in east Jerusalem and called upon all sides to avoid provocations in light of recent developments.
The document also noted that the European Commission never recognized Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem.
"If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states," EU foreign ministers agreed in the statement released on Tuesday, diplomats said.
The statement continued on to call Israel to halt its discriminatory practices against Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem as well as to re-open Palestinian institutions there.
Goldstone Report hampered talks
There mood in Israel following the publication of the EU statement was actually more moderated than the one in the US. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was also pleased by the decision: "I'm pleased that the foreign ministers didn’t make any rash, one-sided decisions.
"The decision stating the some of the core issues between Israel and the Palestinians must be settled by negotiations is even an improvement to Europe's previous stand."
A senior Foreign Ministry source told Ynet that "ensuring such a decision was made was not an easy task."
The State Department emphasized that it was taking steps to renew direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, especially on the backdrop of Israel's decision to impose a 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement building. Such moves include encouraging Israel's Arab neighbors to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"For other countries in the region, we continue to encourage them to provide support to President Abbas and to be prepared to take meaningful steps if and when we get to a point where we think that the parties are prepared to consider negotiations," said Crowley.
To this end, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Wednesday with Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair. In addition, special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is continuing his diplomatic talks with the Arabs. However, Mitchell is not expected to return to the region before the end of the year.
"It's not a failure, because the process isn't over. The process is ongoing. But clearly, in the aftermath of the Goldstone Report, we've seen this fairly substantial gap, emerge, and we're seeing what we can do to move both sides closer to a decision to enter into negotiations," asserted Crowley.