After President Trump's announcement that the United States would view Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and work toward moving its embassy there, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expects other nations to follow America's lead.
As Netanyahu visited Brussels on Monday, it looked as if only a motley crew was offering support for Trump's move — consisting mostly of anti-Islam European leaders holding little political power.
Czech President Milos Zeman, who is known for his affinity with Trump and his anti-Muslim populist rhetoric, was perhaps the highest-profile international leader to support Trump's decision.
Speaking this weekend at a meeting of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party, Zeman assailed Europe's “cowardly” response to Trump's announcement and accused the European Union of letting “the pro-Palestinian terror movement” dominate the discussion about Israel, according to the CTK news agency.
Another European leader with links to the far right, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, tweeted support last week for the view that Jerusalem was the “undivided, eternal capital of Israel.” Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV), added that “all freedom loving countries should move their embassy to Jerusalem” and suggested that the Jordanian capital, Amman, was the Palestinian capital.
Austrian far-right leader Hans-Christian Strache also expressed understanding for Israel's position that Jerusalem is its capital. “It would be our wish too that our embassy would be located there, as is common in the world,” Strache, leader of the Freedom Party (FPO), said in an interview with the newspaper Kurier published Saturday.
Strache wrote a letter to Netanyahu after visiting Israel in June, saying he would do “all in my power, be it legislative or eventually executive, to move the Austrian Embassy” to Jerusalem. In his interview with Kurier, however, he seemed less certain of his ability to help move the embassy and said Austria, “as a neutral country,” should be cautious about moving unilaterally without E.U. support.
Either way, Strache's ability to influence the location of the Austrian Embassy in Israel may be limited. Though the FPO is in talks to form a coalition government with Sebastian Kurz of the center-right Austrian People's Party, Kurz said last week that its policy on Jerusalem has not changed.
Wilders is shut out of government, with mainstream Dutch parties refusing to consider a coalition with him after March's legislative elections. Zeman, meanwhile, occupies a largely ceremonial head-of-state position. The Czech president said Saturday he supports the position of far-right politician Tomio Okamura, leader of the SPD and another critic of Muslim immigration, who said he hoped the Czech Republic would follow Trump's lead.
However, the Czech Foreign Ministry has said it “considers Jerusalem to be future capital of both states, meaning the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine.”
Despite speculation, no sitting government has publicly said it would follow the United States and move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Though Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban last week blocked a planned E.U. statement criticizing Trump's decision, he said Monday that Hungary would not move its embassy.
Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported last week that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had sent a message to Israel saying he wanted to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, but a spokesman for Duterte and representatives of the Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Last week, Netanyahu said Israel was “in contact with other countries that will declare similar recognition” and that some countries may end up moving their embassies before the United States. E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told him Monday that no European leader was planning such a move.
Tel Aviv hosts all the 86 embassies in Israel, while Jerusalem is home to a smaller number of consulates. Though Trump administration officials have said they hope the relocation of the embassy might be accomplished in three to four years, Daniel Shapiro, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, has said logistical problems may mean a five- to 10-year timeline.
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