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UK MPs back Swedish presidency on Jerusalem

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UK MPs back Swedish presidency on Jerusalem
12:13 CET+01:00
A group of nearly 50 members of the British parliament have written a letter voicing their support for a controversial Swedish EU presidency proposal to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

“We, Parliamentarians in the UK, would like to put on record our support for the Swedish Presidency's draft document calling for a viable state of Palestine, comprising the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as its capital,” writes Martin Linton, chair of British-Swedish All-Party Parliamentary Group and chair of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East.

“We pay tribute to the Swedish Presidency for raising this and for standing firm against attempts to derail this initiative.”

The letter, signed by an additional 47 mostly Labour MPs, comes as EU foreign ministers gather on Monday for two days of meetings in Brussels during which Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt will present a proposal outlining the EU's concerns about the “stalemate” in the Middle East peace process.

The draft version of the proposal, which includes a specific reference to East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestine, was published last week in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, sparking outrage and concern over the EU's stance toward the peace process.

Opposition leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni slammed the measure in a letter to Bildt following the Haaretz report.

“I wish to convey my deep concern regarding what appears to be an attempt to prejudge the outcome of issues reserved for permanent status negotiations," wrote Livni, according to Haaretz.

“Whatever the intention of the Council's conclusions, I believe that any attempt to dictate for either party the nature of the outcome on the status of Jerusalem, is not helpful and wrong.”

Speaking to Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newpaper, deputy foreign minister Daniel Ayalon declared that “the Europeans will not dictate the results of the (Israeli-Palestinian) peace process.

“The Swedish initiative is dangerous and it may hinder the efforts to resume negotiations by radicalizing the Palestinian stand,” he added.

Israeli envoys have been tracking the proposal for weeks, with Israel's ambassador to the EU claiming that Sweden was putting the EU on a “collision course” with Israel, according to Haaretz.

While Bildt has refrained from directly addressing Israel's fears ahead of the Brussels meetings, writing on his blog on Sunday, he did refer to the need for “a clear European voice” on the situation in the Middle East in order to “create a situation where forward steps are actually possible”.

Reached by The Local on Monday, a spokesperson for Bildt declined to comment on the proposal.

“We have no comment before the meeting,” Irena Busic told The Local.

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