Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the Israeli claim of Jerusalem as its capital on Sunday after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr. Netanyahu explained that the city had been the historical capital of Israel for 3,000 years and “never been the capital of any other people”, saying Palestinians needed to “get to grips” with reality of the situation.
The statements come amid protests across the Arab world against the United States President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, breaking with Washington’s traditional stance and international norm.
Rallies turned violent over “three days of rage” called by Palestinian leaders following the Dec. 6 recognition, with protests continuing even near the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.
Mr. Macron made it clear during a joint-press conference in Paris that France does not give the same recognition as Washington and believes a two state solution is necessary to end the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Macron said that the U.S. move “unilaterally recognised something that is not complying with the international law.”
The French president asked Netanyahu to “give peace a chance”, possibly through a gesture such as a freeze on West Bank settlements, where Israelis have been building residential areas in what has been described as an illegal occupation.
Netanyahu said that “Paris is the capital of France, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel: it has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and the capital of the Jewish state for 70 years.”
“We respect your history and choices and we know that France will respect ours.”
At least two people died and 200 were injured during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters during rallies on Friday and Saturday, according to the Red Crescent.
Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel have also sent missiles back and forth since the Dec. 6 announcement, with at least two in Gaza dead.
While the Fatah political sect in the West Bank has pursued diplomatic compliants to the United Nations, Hamas equated the U.S. recognition as “an act of war.”
More details to follow. Image 1 of Benjamin Netanyahu and Emmanuel Macron from Reuters.