Pope, UN, EU, others criticize Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as capital

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

On Dec. 6, Pope Francis appealed for Jerusalem's status quo to be respected and for "wisdom and prudence" to prevail over the city, hours before President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, according to the Vatican Radio.

US President Donald Trump will deliver his speech, expecting the US president to "recognize the reality" that Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel and to declare the move to the US diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv and which for decades remained a reason of contention between Israelis and Palestinians.

"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", the Pope said while concluding his regular Wednesday general audience.

Trump drew warnings from Middle Eastern and European leaders that overturning the United States' long-standing policy would further complicate peace negotiations.

Describing the city as "holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the holy sites of their respective religions", the Pope said Jerusalem enjoys a unique status that should be preserved.

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The Vatican backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, with both sides agreeing on the status of Jerusalem as part of the peace process.

Pope Francis also had a discussion, regarding the moves being made by the United States, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.

Before making his public comments, Francis met privately with a group of Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.

"At the end of his weekly general audience, attended by thousands of people, the Pope called for the status quo on Jerusalem to be preserved, saying that he was very anxious because the American decision could "[add] new elements of tension to a global panorama" that is already marred "by so many and cruel conflicts". Pope Francis said the Catholic Church in France had chose to use the phrase "do not let us fall into temptation" as an alternative and indicated that it or something similar should be applied worldwide.

However, a key condition for dialogue is mutual respect and a commitment to strengthen that respect "for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be", he said.

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