Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the European Union today to hold talks with EU foreign ministers while the much-anticipated two-day European Council summit begins on Thursday — where EU leaders are expected to move Brexit talks on to trade.

Netanyahu’s visit has already sparked clashes after he said he expected Europe to follow US president Donald Trump’s lead in recognising Jerusalem as his country’s capital.

However, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters this morning the bloc would continue to recognise the “international consensus” on Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said:

It makes peace possible because recognising reality is the substance of peace, the foundation of peace. There is now an effort an effort 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. It’s time that the Palestinians recognise the Jewish state and also recognise the fact that it has a capital. It’s called Jerusalem.

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Meanwhile, Netanyahu is expected to call on Europe to do more to hold back what he sees as Iranian aggression in the Middle East.

May bullish on Brexit

After Netanyahu’s quick visit talk will move on to the much-anticipated two-day European Council summit, which begins in Brussels on Thursday.

Leaders from the 28 EU member states are set to approve a formal agreement over Brexit after the EU negotiator recommended that the bloc recognises that the UK has made “sufficient progress” following breakthrough talks last week on the Irish border and rights of EU citizens.

The European Commission will then be able to begin work on the second phase of talks with the UK, which covers the transitional exit period, trade and long-term relations with the bloc.

UK leader Theresa May will tell MPs today there is a new “sense of optimism” in the Brexit talks after her last-minute deal aimed at moving them to the next phase, insisting she did not cave in to Brussels over the so-called divorce bill and “alignment” with EU laws.

The summit sign-off itself is pretty much in the bag, the more difficult thing – as various statements from inside her own camp showed this weekend – will be selling it to her Brexiteer allies at home.

Brexit minister David Davis pointed out that last week’s deal is merely “a statement of intent” with no legal basis — highlighting the degree of discomfort with some of the concessions made by the UK already.