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PA: Kouchner weakened EU declaration on Jerusalem

Dec. 9, 2009 9:25 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 11, 2009 9:09 A.M.)
Ramallah – Ma’an – A top Palestinian Authority (PA) official criticized French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Tuesday evening for weakening a Swedish proposal on the status of Jerusalem during the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

The secretary-general of the Palestinian Presidency At-Tayyib Abdul-Rahim said, "We criticize France’s Foreign Minister Kouchner for his stance toward the status of Jerusalem."

"We consider his attitude to be contradicting that of the French president, who said more than once that East Jerusalem was part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967," Abdul-Rahim added in a statement.

Abdul-Rahim said that because of Kouchner’s position, the EU foreign ministers watered down the original Swedish draft statement, such that the final statement does not take a "clear position" on the borders of a Palestinian state.

He said this lack of clarity would allow Israel to continue avoiding the implementation of international resolutions that recognize Jerusalem as part of the Palestinian territories Israel occupied in 1967.

The EU foreign ministers agreed on a statement on Tuesday calling for East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state through negotiations. Israel and Palestinian officials said the statement took a more moderate position than a draft originally proposed by Sweden.

Abdul-Rahim asserted that Jerusalem will be the capital of the future Palestinian state, and that the city’s status has already been decided by international resolutions.

"Kouchner’s attitude was received with astonishment and resentment by the Palestinian people despite the fact that the Palestinian people and their leadership respect the French people and president as well as France’s political attitude toward the Middle East," Abdul-Rahim added.

"Kouchner should not have adopted such a stance which agrees with Israeli plans to weaken the Swedish proposal which clearly talks about Jerusalem as capital of the Palestinian state,” the statement added.

Israel on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the EU foreign ministers’ rejection of the Swedish proposal which would have declared East Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state.

Instead, the final draft included the milder formulation that "a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states."

In an interview on Tuesday, former Palestinian Minister of Information Mustafa Barghouthi called the final declaration "disappointing" compared to the original draft. He said "certain European countries" had softened the language of the statement.

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