By Abdel Rauof Arnaout
The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has aroused high hopes in Israel that more countries will follow suit in recognizing the disputed holy city as its capital.
“We are optimistic that more states will follow the U.S. example,” Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Anadolu Agency.
He said that many countries will move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem when Washington relocates its diplomatic mission to the city.
“Many states might even relocate their embassies to Jerusalem even before the U.S. does,” the spokesman said. “Israel is calling on other countries to follow the U.S. suit.”
The Israeli spokesman said Israel was in contact with other states to act like the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem. He, however, declined to name these countries.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and began preparations to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reversing decades of U.S. policy of remaining neutral on the holy city.
The U.S. move has triggered widespread protests in the Palestinian territories and several countries amid condemnations from Arab and Muslim countries.
Washington’s European allies have also criticized the move, warning that the U.S. decision would worsen relations between Palestinians and Israelis as well as spark unrest in the region.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the “German government does not support this position, because the status of Jerusalem is to be resolved in the framework of a two-state solution,” according to a tweet by her spokesman.
French President Emmanuel Macron decried the U.S. move as “a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also said that the U.S. move could further disrupt efforts to reach peace in the Middle East.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
Uri Savir, a former general manager of the Israeli foreign ministry, ruled out other countries following the U.S. example in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“I think that such a move would be impossible,” Savir told Anadolu Agency.
He said Trump’s decision has weakened Israel’s position regarding Jerusalem.
“The decision has led to international consensus in favor of the two-state solution,” he said.
He opined that the U.S. decision would not find any international support.
“On the contrary, the U.S. has now lost its role as peace mediator,” Savir said. “It is no longer seen as a fair mediator.”
The Israeli diplomat said that nothing has changed on the ground after the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“There is still a need to pursue negotiations to reach an agreement on final-status issues,” Savir said.
“We have to find out new creative ideas either by convincing Trump to present new proposals or getting new parties such as the EU to be involved in the negotiations,” he said.
The Israeli diplomat ruled out Netanyahu’s expectations that other countries will relocate their embassies to Jerusalem soon.
“There might be one or two states which would do so, but it is unexpected or almost impossible to have major countries move their missions to Jerusalem.”
In his speech on Wednesday, Trump did not use the term “unified” in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"As an Israeli, West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has been and will be,” Savir said. “What we want is a solution to the Palestinian problem, including the issue of Jerusalem within the framework of the two-state solution,” he said.