US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition. He said that the state department would begin preparations to relocate the US embassy from Telaviv to Jerusalem.
The status of Jerusalem is a critical issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming the city as their capital.
In a frantic series of calls, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the European Union, France, Germany and Turkey all warned Trump against the move.
Anticipating protests, US government officials and their families were ordered to avoid Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank.
Hundreds of Palestinians burned US and Israeli flags as well as pictures of Trump in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, while relatively small clashes erupted near the West Bank city of Hebron and a refugee camp near Bethlehem.
A range of world leaders issued further warnings.
“I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days,” Pope Francis said, a day after speaking by phone with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
The pontiff added that maintaining Jerusalem’s 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”.
British foreign minister Boris Johnson expressed concern “because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a negotiated settlement.” China warned the plan could fuel tensions in the region and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “Muslims must stand united against this major plot.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on December 13.
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