Middle East, Europe

Austria refuses to relocate Israel embassy to Jerusalem

Austrian president says his country has no intention of recognizing city as Israel’s capital

Austria refuses to relocate Israel embassy to Jerusalem


By Qais Abu Samra and Afra Aksoy

RAMALLAH, Palestine

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen on Tuesday said his country would not follow Washington’s lead by relocating its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Ramallah with Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas, Van der Bellen asserted: “We won’t take any similar steps in this regard.”

He added: “Our country is bound to EU policy vis-à-vis Palestine.”

Van der Bellen also criticized the U.S. administration’s decision last year to cut funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

“We favor a two-state solution to the Palestine issue through negotiations,” he said, describing Austria’s relations with Palestine as “close”.

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated Washington’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Ramallah responded by rejecting any mediating role by the U.S. in the moribund Middle East peace process.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

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