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Netanyahu: Trump declaration as significant as creation of Israel

Former peace negotiator Tzipi Livni told i24NEWS Trump's decision was a 'moving, touching statement'

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday declared Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to be a landmark moment in Zionist history, comparing it even with the state's establishment in 1948.

The US president on Wednesday signed a proclamation that threw the weight of the White House behind Israel's claim -- shunned by most of the international community -- that the holy city is Israel's capital.

His move triggered protests in Palestinian cities and even a potential diplomatic snub of US Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming visit the the region, but has buoyed the right wing Israeli government.

"There are big moments in the history of Zionism: the Balfour Declaration, the creation of the state, the liberation of Jerusalem," Netanyahu said in a clip published on his social media accounts. "And yesterday -- Trump's declaration."

"I said to him, dear president, you stand to make history," Netanyahu said, "and yesterday, he made history."

Senior Israeli opposition figure Tzipi Livni, who was minister in charge of peace negotiations in the previous Netanyahu government, welcomed Trump's decision as a "moving, touching statement" but said it should be accompanied by a willingness to compromise.

"I believe that also now when the Palestinians feel that they are being abandoned by the international community, this is also an opportunity for them to understand that the creation of a future Palestinian state would be through negotiations," Livni told i24NEWS in an interview.

"We have an opportunity with the Sunni Arab world -- let's do it."

The Israeli foreign ministry also hit back at criticism from the European Union foreign policy chief, who on Thursday affirmed that the EU's position that the status of Jerusalem as "capital of both states" should be resolved through negotiations.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the statement was "puzzling".

"The insistence that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel is a denial of an indisputable historical fact," the statement added.

Following a day of widespread but largely contained clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, Israel's Hadashot news channel said that construction minister Yoav Galant was proposing to build 14,000 new housing units in Jerusalem, including in neighborhoods in the Arab-majority east.

Israel annexed the city after their victory in the 1967 Six Day War, however the Palestinians claim the eastern parts of the city as the capital of their hoped-for future state.

See also:

Netanyahu says many countries will move embassies to Jerusalem


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