Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Culture&Arts | By Hattie Nash

Pope concerned by United States move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital


"I can not silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days".

Vatican City: 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.

Pope Francis stressed the importance of dialogue and "recognizing the rights of all people" in the Holy Land in an address to Palestinians.

"At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone's commitment to respect the city's status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions", he said.

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Trump's decision has been strongly condemned by USA allies and rivals alike.

West Jerusalem is where Israel's government is based, but Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In response to Trump's announcement, patriarchs and heads of all churches in Jerusalem urged Trump to reconsider his decision to relocate the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reiterating deep concerns of potentially escalating conflicts in a region sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Francis made the appeal during his weekly audience, after speaking with the Palestinian leader and soon after meeting with a delegation of Palestinian religious and intellectual representatives in a previously scheduled audience.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May said she meant to speak to Trump about the status of Jerusalem, which she said should be determined as part of a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

European countries have also expressed their concern regarding the issue in various statements. "We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work toward negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfil its destiny".

Trump is expected to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and begin preparations to move the U.S. Embassy to the city, three senior administration officials confirmed late Tuesday.

Palestinians insist there is no hope of a peace agreement unless they can use the east of the city as their capital, but the Israelis claim the whole city as their own.

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