Italy’s stance on the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

In early December 2017, President Donald Trump expressed his willingness to put into effect his presidential campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thereby moving the United States embassy there from Tel Aviv. Subsequently, he confirmed his intention notwithstanding the fact that it was met with criticisms, and even protests and open hostility, by many States and it caused peaceful as well as violent manifestations of dissent in the Middle East. Disapproval of President Trump’s decision was also voiced by Italy. On 7 December 2017, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Angelino Alfano, issued the following statement:

Italy’s position on Jerusalem remains anchored to that of Europe and to the international consensus gathered within the UN.

A solution for Jerusalem as the future capital of two States is to be sought in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians within the peace process based on the two-State solution, taking into account the legitimate expectations of both sides.

Until this occurs, Italy will continue to abide by the relevant UN resolutions and maintain its Embassy to the State of Israel in Tel Aviv.

We are concerned about the repercussions that the announcement of the United States’ new approach can have on the ground. We call on the sense of responsibility of all the players in Palestine and in the region to avoid accidents and acts of violence that would benefit no one.

Italy, together with its EU partners – and in contact with regional and international actors – will assess the situation and reflect on possible European initiatives aiming at contributing to a substantial resumption of the peace process in the prospect of a two-State solution, which must be upheld as it is the only one realistically viable.

The day after, 8 December 2017, the Italian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, together with his French, German, Swedish and British colleagues, adopted the following joint statement:

We disagree with the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is not in line with Security Council resolutions and is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.

The status of Jerusalem must be determined through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians leading to a final status agreement. It is a constant position of EU Members that, within this framework, Jerusalem should ultimately be the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states. Until then, we recognize no sovereignty over Jerusalem.

In line with international law and relevant Security Council Resolutions, notably resolutions 476, 478 and 2334, we consider East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  An agreement on the borders of the two states should be based on the 4 June 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps as may be agreed between the parties. The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

Given the volatile situation on the ground, we call on all parties and all regional stake holders to work together to maintain calm.

We all share a willingness to put an end to the conflict. We note the commitment made by President Trump to support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides and his clear acknowledgement that the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem must be subject to negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We stand ready to contribute to all credible efforts to restart the peace process, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, leading to a two-State solution. We encourage the US Administration to now bring forward detailed proposals for an Israel-Palestinian settlement.

The statement by Minister Alfano can be found here.

The statement by Ambassador Cardi can be found here.

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