16-Dec-2017
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Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital: Pope asks to respect ‘status quo’

 

Jerusalem, Dec 7: US President Donald Trump will unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the White House has said, a move that elicited huge outrage from the Palestinians and the entire Arab world, media reports said on Wednesday.
 
The news comes ahead of an expected speech by Trump on Wednesday.
 
The status of Jerusalem - a holy site for Israelis and Palestinians - is extremely contentious. Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
 
The issue goes to the heart of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the rest of the Arab and wider Islamic world.
 
The city is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.
 
Israel occupied the sector, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.
 
However, Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and all countries, including Israel's closest ally the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.
 
In recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the US becomes the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948, the BBC reported.
 
The move, if materialised, would mean a recognition of the city as Israel's capital and is likely to fuel conflicts between Israel and Palestine further giving rise to global concerns.
 
Palestinian factions have already announced that they would carry out three days of protest across the West Bank over the expected move.
 
Trump on Tuesday told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II about his intentions.
 
Arab leaders have warned against the move, with one saying this would be "a flagrant provocation to Muslims".
 
The Palestinian factions said protests will start on Wednesday and last until Friday at the very least. According to Palestinian leaders, marches against the decision were being backed by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said.
 
White officials have, however, said Trump might not immediately move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem given logistical complexities and it might take several years, the BBC said.
 
The Trump administration said recognising Jerusalem should be seen as "a recognition of reality" by the President. Specific boundaries of the city would remain subject to a final status agreement, it said. 
 
The status of holy sites will not be affected.
 
Trump had promised the move to pro-Israel voters during his campaign for the presidency.
 
Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Wednesday defended the “status quo” of Jerusalem, hours ahead of an announcement by US President Donald Trump in which officials said he will recognise the disputed city as Israel’s capital.
 
“I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days. At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city’s status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions,” the pope said in his weekly address.
 
The Argentine pontiff’s call came a day after he spoke by phone with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, the Vatican said without elaborating. “Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims,” he said, adding that it was home to sites deemed holy by followers of the three major monotheistic faiths.
 
Jerusalem, the pope said, holds a “special vocation for peace”. “I pray to God that this identity is preserved and reinforced, for the sake of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail,” he said. The pontiff added that maintaining the status quo was important “in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts”.