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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move by US President Donald Trump -- which prompted diplomatic alarm and street protests across the Islamic world -- had "put facts squarely on the table".

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Netanyahu said Trump's Jerusalem move had "put facts squarely on the table". (AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND, EMMANUEL DUNAND)

By AFP

Israel's leader said Monday the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital "makes peace possible" as he faced renewed pressure from Europe to reboot the Middle East's moribund peace process.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move by US President Donald Trump -- which prompted diplomatic alarm and street protests across the Islamic world -- had "put facts squarely on the table".

He spoke as he arrived for talks at the EU, where the bloc's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini urged Israel to find a "sustainable and comprehensive solution" to the decades-long conflict with the Palestinians.



The EU expressed alarm last week at the US decision, but Netanyahu said Trump had "put facts squarely on the table" by acknowledging Jerusalem had been the capital of the Israeli state for 70 years and of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.

"It doesn't obviate peace, it makes peace possible, because recognising reality is the substance of peace, it's the foundation of peace," he said in a statement alongside Mogherini ahead of a breakfast meeting with EU foreign ministers.

The Jerusalem decision upended decades of US diplomacy and broke with international consensus. Mogherini last week warned it could take the situation "backwards to even darker times".

Mogherini said the EU -- the Palestinians' largest donor -- would step up efforts with the two sides and regional partners including Jordan and Egypt to relaunch the peace process.

"We believe it is in Israel's interest, especially in the security interest of Israel, to find a sustainable and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Mogherini said.

Netanyahu has praised Trump's decision as "historic" and he explained Sunday that Jerusalem "has always been our capital and it has never been the capital of any other people".

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and previous peace plans have stumbled over debates on whether and how to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites.

Mogherini also condemned attacks on Israel -- after Netanyahu took aim over the weekend at what he called Europe's "hypocrisy" for condemning Trump's statement, but not "the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it".

"Let me condemn in the strongest possible way all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world, including in Europe, and on Israel and on Israeli citizens," Mogherini said.

Netanyahu pointed to a new US peace initiative as a possible way forward.

"There is now an effort under way to bring forward a new peace proposal by the American administration. I think we should give peace a chance. I think we should see what is presented and see if we can advance this peace," he said.

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working with a small team to develop a new US proposal to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but it is not clear what progress he is making.
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