Israeli protesters swarm EU diplomats in East Jerusalem

The European delegation came to speak out against a new Israeli housing project in the disputed area.

al-monitor A convoy of EU diplomats leaves as Israeli protesters shout slogans during a tour of an EU delegation and like-minded countries on the site of a planned extension of the Givat Hamatos settlement in east Jerusalem on Nov. 16, 2020. Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images.

Nov 16, 2020

Right-wing Israeli protesters heckled a group of European diplomats in Jerusalem today. The European Union (EU) delegation came to condemn a new housing project in the contested city.

The Israeli government approved the construction of more than 1,200 homes in the strategic Givat Hamatos on Sunday. The move is controversial because Palestinians say it would cut off the Palestinian city of Bethlehem from East Jerusalem, according to The Associated Press.

On Monday, EU representative to the Palestinians Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff brought a delegation of European diplomats to the neighborhood to voice disagreement with the news. Upon their arrival, a group of Israeli demonstrators from the right-wing Im Tirtzu movement surrounded them and waved Israeli flags. They shouted “Go back to Europe,” “EU, shame on you” and other slogans, The Times of Israel reported. The diplomats then left the area, according to the Israeli news outlet.

Israel gained control of East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 war and claims sovereignty over the entirety of the holy city. EU member states and much of the international community, however, regard east Jerusalem as occupied by Israel. Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as the capital. Jerusalem’s Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites are all in the eastern part of the city.

Despite overall good relations with EU countries, some European states are more critical of Israeli settlements and other policies toward the Palestinians than the United States is.

Because of Jerusalem’s disputed status, most EU and other states that have diplomatic relations with Israel still recognize Tel Aviv as the capital of the Jewish state. The United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, however, and moved its embassy there the following year. A handful of African and Latin American states later followed suit. Serbia and Kosovo in Eastern Europe also agreed to move their embassies to Jerusalem, but neither state is in the EU.

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