Foreign Minister Runs From Speaker‘s Pro-Israel Statement

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The government, has distanced itself from comments made by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, days after the United States, had issued similar sentiments sparking a wave of violence across Jerusalem and the West Bank.

A statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry said, “while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration does not wish to stifle debates on this issue which is of international concern, the Minister will appeal to all well-minded persons to take cognizance of the sensitivity of the issue.”

Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces, clashed last Friday in Jerusalem and the West Bank amid heightened tensions in the region and elsewhere over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The US state department, has been directed by President Trump to begin moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The US’ decision is viewed as having hefty consequences, because of the standing of Jerusalem to Israel and the Palestinians; two counties that have been in conflict for decades.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, has never been recognized, as all countries situate their embassies in Tel Aviv. East Jerusalem, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967 and has not been recognised as part of Israel until the US’ decision.

In an interview with Israeli media network, i24NEWS last Tuesday in relation to these developments, Prof. Oquaye, said Ghana would abide with Israel’s wishes on the standing of Jerusalem ,because “whatever Israel wants, we in Ghana will go by that, because that is essentially an internal decision.”

The Speaker was in Israel as part of the “Power Africa” initiative, where he also alluded to the strong “historical ties between Israel and Ghana.”

But with the knowledge of the volatile nature of Israel-Palestine relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration stated that, the comments made by Prof. Ocquaye, did not reflect Ghana’s foreign policy.

“While appreciating the interest taken by Rt. Hon. Mike Ocquaye, the Foreign Ministry wishes to emphasize that it is a personal view to which the Rt. Hn. Speaker is entitled,” a statement from the Ministry said.

The ministry emphasized the government’s neutral stance on the matter, saying that “Ghana has always supported the position that the Palestinian-Isreali conflict should be resolved peacefully between the parties themselves and all the stakeholders involved. It is therefore important to all stakeholders and observers to remain neutral until final resolution by partners.”

The statement also noted that, Ghana has generally called “for a fair and comprehensive resolution of the conflict.”

“While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration does not wish to stifle debates on this issue which is of international concern, the Minister will appeal to all well-minded persons to take cognizance of the sensitivity of the issue.”

Palestinians have taken to the streets of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip angry at US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Earlier, Israel carried out strikes on Gaza in response to rocket fire aimed at southern Israel.

The move ends US neutrality on one of the region’s most sensitive issues and has been criticised even by US allies.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

For Mr Trump the decision fulfils a campaign promise and he has said it was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”.

More than 600 Palestinians held protests at over 20 West Bank sites, according to the Israeli army, with some lobbing stones and petrol bombs at security forces.

In northern Israel, a bus was pelted with rocks as it passed through mostly Arab communities, with three Israelis injured.

There were also protests at the Gaza border, where a day before two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Three rockets were fired at Israel late on Friday, with no casualties reported.

Israel responded with strikes targeting what the army said were military sites belonging to the Islamist group Hamas, killing two of its members.

Thousands of Palestinians had protested on Friday, with solidarity demonstrations held across the Arab world and in other Muslim-majority nations.

The US vice-president is due to visit the Middle East later this month, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser Majdi al-Khaldi, said the pair would not be meeting.

“America has crossed all red lines with its latest decisions over Jerusalem,” Majdi al-Khaldi said.

There has been no comment from Mr Abbas himself though and it is not clear what, if any, meeting had been scheduled.

At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, the US found itself isolated, with the other 14 members all condemning Mr Trump’s declaration.

But US ambassador, Nikki Haley, accused the UN of bias, saying it “has outrageously been one of the world’s foremost centres of hostility towards Israel”, and that the US was still committed to finding peace.

Jerusalem is of huge importance to both Israel and the Palestinians. It contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Israel occupied the eastern sector – previously occupied by Jordan – in 1967, and annexed it in 1980, but the move has never been recognised internationally.

Some 330,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, along with about 200,000 Israeli Jews in a dozen settlements there. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel does not regard them as settlements but legitimate neighbourhoods.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem, is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

The last round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014, and while the US is formulating fresh proposals, Palestinian officials, have said Mr Trump’s announcement, has disqualified the US from brokering future negotiations.

 

 

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