14 December 2017

Africa: Ethiopia Backs the AU's Stance On Jerusalem

Photo: allafrica.com
Palestinian flag and the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

American President Donald Trump officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This places his country on the opposite side of the issue from virtually the entire international community, including the African Union and Ethiopia.

On 6 December 2017, Trump officially announced that the US formally recognised the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He added that plans were afoot for their embassy to be moved, reversing nearly 70 years of bipartisan US foreign policy. While the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed Trump's decision as historic, key Arab allies and the African Union have expressed fear regarding what it might mean for regional stability.

The Ethiopian government says its embassy will continue to be located in the known Israeli capital, Tel Aviv, despite this development. At a media conference, the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, Meles Alem, told reporters that Trump's announcement applied to the US alone.

"We, as part of the African Union, endorse the two-state solution," he added.

The AU has gone on to describe their stance thus: "The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, notes with deep concern the decision of the United States government, announced today, to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

"He regrets this decision, which will only increase tensions in the region and beyond and further complicate the search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates the solidarity of the African Union with the Palestinian people and its support for their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"In this context, he calls for renewed international efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict, based on the existence of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, within the framework of relevant African Union and United Nations pronouncements."

World leaders have since slammed the move, calling it a setback for peace efforts between Israel and Palestine and a security risk to the larger Middle East region. The European Union, the United Nations and African Union have all expressed concern over Trump's move.

The European Union, the United Nations and African Union have all expressed concern over Trump's move.

The move has provoked a series of anti-American protests across the Muslim world. Deadly clashes have erupted between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. Somalia, Djibouti, Egypt and other African countries have expressed their condemnation.

Ethiopia is a known ally of both the United States and Israel. Their relation with the US hinges on anti-terrorism and diplomacy. The same factors are at play in Ethiopia's relationship with Israel, in addition to cultural and traditional ties that have been in existence for decades.

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