(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of European foreign ministers that the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and its capital, Jerusalem.
Israel is open to seeing what kind of peace plan the United States will put forward, Netanyahu said.
“I think we should give peace a chance. I think we should see what is presented and see if we can advance this peace. But if we have to begin it, I would say it’s one place: recognize the Jewish state,” he said Monday morning in Brussels. “It’s always been about the Jewish state. And it’s time that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and also recognize the fact that it has a capital. It’s called Jerusalem.
“I believe that even though we don’t have an agreement yet, this is what will happen in the future. I believe that all or most of the European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace.”
The prime minister praised President Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying that Trump “put facts squarely on the table.”
Netanyahu said that Israel was attacked long before any settlements were built and long before there were territorial issues.
“We were attacked not because of this or that piece of territory, but of the idea of any territory, that there would be a Jewish state, a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundary was rejected by our neighbors,” he said. “This is what led to the conflict, and this is what continues the conflict.”
Netanyahu noted that Israeli intelligence has prevented dozens of terrorist attacks, many of them on European soil.
“I believe that Israel serves a very important security function for the people of Europe in ways that are not always understood, but increasingly are appreciated by the relevant governments,” he said.
Prior to his meeting with the EU foreign ministers, Netanyahu met with reporters alongside EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who said the EU is opposed to changing Jerusalem’s status before a peace agreement is brokered between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mogherini reiterated the union’s principled opposition to a change in Jerusalem’s status before a comprehensive peace agreement.
“The only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both,” she said.
Mogherini also condemned “in the strongest possible way all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world, including in Europe, and on Israel and on Israeli citizens.”
She added that the European Union will redouble its efforts to relaunch the peace process.