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Austrian President Refuses to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Austrian President Refuses to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Thursday, 7 February, 2019 - 08:00
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen. AFP file photo
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has rejected a request made by Israeli officials to transfer his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sources in Tel Aviv said.

Van der Bellen, who visited Israel this week, was asked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the sources said. But Austria’s president refused the offer, saying the European Union has a unified stance regarding the matter.

Van der Bellen on Tuesday criticized the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

He made the remarks during a press conference with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

“Austria is sad about the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as about the cut in US assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA),” he said.

The president stressed that his country would never take a similar step regarding the relocation of the embassy. “Our country is bound to EU policy vis-à-vis Palestine,” he said.

Der Bellen favored “a two-state solution to the Palestine issue through negotiations,” describing Austrian-Palestinian relations as “close”.

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