Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “several countries” are considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel.
Speaking exclusively to CNN a day after the United Nations Assembly voted against Trump’s move, Netanyahu said the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem could lead the way for others to follow.
“We’re now talking to several countries who are seriously considering saying exactly the same thing as the United States and moving their embassies to Jerusalem,” Trump told CNN.
On Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Netanyahu added: “I think what it does is finally recognize a historical truth.
“Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years from the time of King David. It has been the capital of Israel for 70 years, and it’s about time that the US said, and I’m glad they said, ‘This is the capital and we recognize it’ and I think that’s going to be followed by other countries.”
Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel was widely criticized by the international community.
In response, leaders from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation recognized East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of a Palestinian state.
Palestinian leaders also condemned the US’s stance, declaring they would not welcome US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
In his Christmas message, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the US move illegal and a violation of their rights.
“We will not accept the US as the mediator in the peace process nor are we going to accept any plan from the US side,” he said.
Pressed on whether he would be ready to negotiate the future of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said he was “willing to put my position forward.”
“Our position is Jerusalem remaining a united, safe and secure city, freedom of worship for all faiths which we guarantee and, by the way, in the Middle East, we’re just about the only ones that guarantee this freedom of worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
“That’s my vision of Jerusalem. Palestinians may have a different vision. They should come and negotiate. They say they won’t negotiate; they’re walking away from the negotiation table… again.”
“You want peace, go to negotiate peace.”