President Donald Trump sparked an uproar among leaders across the world after he signaled that he would be recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy there, upending decades of American foreign policy and potentially thwarting any hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Trump called Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of several U.S. allies on Tuesday to break the news. He is expected to formally announce the decision in a speech on Wednesday.
Abbas warned Trump “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,” Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement after Trump’s call. The Palestinian leader also called for three days of protest beginning Wednesday.
The embassy move would represent the “kiss of death” to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian representative to Britain an issue Trump has delegated to Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and adviser. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman made similar warnings.
“Mr. Trump, Jerusalem is the red line of Muslims,” Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said Monday. He additionally threatened to cut Turkey’s diplomatic ties with Israel.
The Arab League also opposed the move, with Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit saying it was a “dangerous measure that would have repercussions.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also cautioned Trump against “taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei coined the U.S. move a “sign of its incompetence and failure.” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday slammed the decision as a result of “global arrogance and Zionism looking for a new adventure.”
Beyond the Middle East, the European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, also said it would damage peace talks.
“The European Union supports the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution,” she said. “We believe that any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided.”
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Foreign Minister, cautioned that the move would fuel more conflict and “would be a very dangerous development.” Britain views the news “with concern,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, and Prime Minister Theresa May added that she plans to speak directly with Trump on the matter. And French President Emmanuel Macron said he reminded Trump over the phone that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through peace talks. The Kremlin also expressed concern about the decision.
Pope Francis made a passionate plea against Trump’s decision in an address on Wednesday.
“I make a heartfelt appeal so that all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations,” he said. “I cannot keep quiet about my deep worry about the situation that has been created in the last few days.”
He said he hoped “wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many and cruel conflicts.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Pope told a group of Palestinians that “recognizing the rights of all people” in the Holy Land is a primary condition for peace talks.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday that China was concerned Trump’s decision “could sharpen regional conflict”.
“All parties should do more for the peace and tranquillity of the region, behave cautiously, and avoid impacting the foundation for resolving the long-standing Palestine issue and initiating new hostility in the region,” Geng said.
The United Nations has also expressed opposition to the move.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has “consistently warned against any unilateral action that would have the potential to undermine the two-state solution”, his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.
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