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World leaders condemn Trump's Jerusalem plan

The US president's plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US embassy to the city bring global disapproval, even before his expected announcement.

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World leaders condemn Trump's Jerusalem plan

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World leaders have been speaking out, almost universally condemning or expressing alarm in response to US President Donald Trump’s anticipated announcement that Washington is to recognise Jerusalem unilaterally as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy to the city. Here are some of their comments.

Europe

Pope Francis spoke to a group of Palestinians visiting the Vatican on Wednesday, and highlighted dialogue. “The Holy Land is for us Christians the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind,” he said. “The primary condition of that dialogue is reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognising the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be”.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he viewed reports that the US will move its embassy to Jerusalem “with concern”. “Let’s wait and see what the president says exactly. But, you know, we view the reports that we have heard with concern because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he said.

As early as Monday night, the French president expressed his “concern” in a phone call with Donald Trump. “Emmanuel Macron recalled that the question of Jerusalem’s status should be resolved within the framework of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, aiming in particular for the establishment of two states living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem as the capital,” the Elysee said. France’s foreign ministry warns on its website that demonstrations are expected and that its nationals should avoid them.

“Recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more,” said Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. “It is in everyone’s interest that this does not happen.” The German Foreign Ministry followed up on Wednesday saying Berlin was concerned that violent clashes could erupt in the Middle East as a result of the US move.

The European Union’s top diplomat said on Tuesday that “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided”. “A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled,” Federica Mogherini said, speaking alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels.

Turkey threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Israel if President Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Mr Trump, Jerusalem is the red line of Muslims,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday. A government spokesman followed up on Wednesday to say “it is plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight”.

The Palestinian Representative to Britain, Manuel Hassassian, said Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem could be the beginning of violence again and the “kiss of death to the peace process”. He added that Trump was declaring war in the Middle East, against Muslims and Christians who would not accept Jerusalem under Israeli control.

Middle East

The US president spoke by phone on Tuesday to the leaders of Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to inform them of his plans. Here are some of their reactions:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world,” said his spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina. In response, senior US officials said Trump had told Abbas on Tuesday that he was committed to facilitating a peace deal and believed such a deal was within reach.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers to stay silent, at Trump’s request, according to Israeli media. However, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat has been quoted as saying “this historic step will send a very clear message to the world that the United States stands with the Jewish people and the State of Israel. In Jerusalem, we don’t cave to pressure and we don’t let threats or violence stop us from doing what is right.”

King Abdullah of Jordan “affirmed that the decision will have serious implications that will undermine efforts to resume the peace process and will provoke Muslims and Christians alike,” said a statement from his office.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said that “such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque,” according to a statement by the state-run news agency SPA. It said the king told Trump “that any American announcement regarding the situation of Jerusalem prior to reaching a permanent settlement will harm peace talks and increase tensions in the area”.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US move was a sign of its incompetence and failure, according to his personal website. He has been quoted as saying that US “hands are tied on the issue of Palestine” and they cannot reach their goals. Palestine will be “freed” and the people of Palestine will reach victory.

“The Iraqi government received this news with the utmost worry and warns about this decision’s ramifications on the stability of the region and the world,” the Iraqi cabinet said in a statement.

“(The move) is the culmination of the crime of usurping Palestine and displacing the Palestinian people,” said the Syrian state news agency SANA, quoting a foreign ministry source.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Tuesday that the US move would be a “dangerous measure that would have repercussions” across the region.

Other reaction

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russia was concerned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be aggravated. "However, we would not discuss the decisions which have not been taken yet," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

On Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to say Moscow backed a resumption of talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, including on the status of Jerusalem, according to the Kremlin.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric: “We have always regarded Jerusalem as a final-status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties based on relevant Security Council resolutions”.