U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
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World Leaders Warn Trump Against Jerusalem Decision

| by Robert Fowler

World leaders across Europe and the Middle East have cautioned U.S. President Donald Trump against his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital city. The move would reverse decades of U.S. foreign policy and, American allies have warned, could permanently derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and spark civil unrest in the region.

On Dec. 6, Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel during a press conference at the White House. The president committed to relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"I have determined that it is time for the United States to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said, according to a White House transcript.

Jerusalem holds sites deemed sacred by Christianity, Islam and Judaism, according to BBC News. Israel gained control of West Jerusalem in 1947. Following the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestine has long aspired to make its own capital. In 1980, Israel declared that it had sovereignty over both spheres of the city, a move the United Nations Security Council condemned, CNN reports.

Since 1995, U.S. presidents have repeatedly delayed relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, asserting that Israel and Palestine would have to negotiate sovereignty over the city in a peace settlement.

Before Trump's press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled his satisfaction with the reversal in U.S. foreign policy during a speech.

"Our national historical identity is receiving important expressions every day, and especially today," said Netanyahu on Dec. 6, according to The Times of Israel.

Meanwhile, many other world leaders voiced alarm over Trump's decision. Leaders in the Middle East asserted that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital would be viewed as an affront to Muslims in the region.

"If this happens, it will complicate things," said a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Dec. 6, The New York Times reports. "It will put an obstacle to the peace process. Maybe it will be the end of the peace process."

Palestinian envoy to the U.K. Manuel Hassassian stated: "If [Trump] says what he is intending to say about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, it means a kiss of death to the two-state solution."

"He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims [and] hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel," Hassassian added, according to Politico.

During a joint press conference in Ankara, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed concern that Trump's decision would lead to violence.

"There is no alternative to a two-state solution, and Jerusalem is key to any peace agreement," Abdullah said, according to The Independent.

"No one person's personal ambitions should be allowed to alter the fates of billions of people," Erdogan added. "Any such move would only embolden terrorist organizations."

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi voiced similar concerns. El-Sisi warned that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital "would undermine chances for peace in the Middle East," according to BBC News.

In Europe, Pope Francis signaled he was against the shift in U.S. foreign policy.

"I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days," the pontiff said. "At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions."

The UN and EU reiterated their positions that the sovereignty of Jerusalem should be decided in a peace settlement.

"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," said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, Reuters reports.

"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," the EU said in a statement, according to BBC News.

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