World leaders react as Trump prepares to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Published: December 6, 2017
A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City. PHOTO: REUTERS

A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City. PHOTO: REUTERS

Condemnations, warnings and messages of caution have poured in from world leaders around the world as they react to the news that US President Donald Trump is poised to announce the moving of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem at a policy speech later tonight.

The move is considered by many to be an official recognition by the US government that it considers Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital.

“Trump will say that that the United States government recognises that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” a senior administration official has told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He views this as a recognition of reality, both historic reality,” the source added, “and modern reality.”

Senator Sherry Rehman urges Muslim world to convey due concern

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator and former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has urged the Pakistani government and the Muslim world to convey its due concern on Trump’s decision by conveying an official meeting of the OIC.

“If the Trump admin moves the US embassy to Jerusalem it will send a costly signal to the entire Muslim world. Pakistan should not wait to convey it’s due concern, nor must the OIC take time to call an emergency meeting,” Rehman said in a post on Twitter.

China says Trump plan to move embassy in Israel could spark “new hostility” 

China expressed concern on Wednesday about US President Donald Trump’s reported intention to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US Embassy to the ancient city, saying it could spark new hostility.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing that the status of Jerusalem was a complicated and sensitive issue and China was concerned the US 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.

Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, move US embassy there

China has long maintained that Palestinians must be allowed to build an independent state, although it has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil.

Kremlin: US embassy move to Jerusalem may further worsen Israel-Palestinian relations 

The Kremlin has said that Russia was concerned that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authorities could be aggravated further by US President Donald Trump’s plans to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“However, we would not discuss the decisions which have not been taken yet,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

British foreign secretary “concerned” about planned US recognition of Jerusalem 

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that he was concerned about reports that US President Donald Trump’s would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Lets 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 told reporters in Brussels.

Future status of Jerusalem must be negotiated: UN envoy 

The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process said that Jerusalem’s future status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians and warned of the repercussions of any action over the disputed city.

“The (UN) secretary general has spoken many times on this issue… and he has said that we all have to be very careful with the actions we take because of the repercussions of these actions,” Nickolay Mladenov told a conference ahead of US President Donald Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The future of Jerusalem is something that needs to be negotiated with Israel, with the Palestinians, sitting side by side directly in negotiations.”

Netanyahu refrains from commenting on Trump Jerusalem plan 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refrained from commenting on US President Donald Trump’s intention to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in his first speech since the plan was confirmed.

Turkey could break off ties with Israel over Jerusalem: Erdogan

Netanyahu, speaking at a diplomatic conference organised by The Jerusalem Post newspaper, instead focused on Israel’s security and economic ties with countries globally.

Recognising rights of all people in Holy Land essential, says Pope 

Pope Francis, speaking to Palestinians ahead of US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, said on Wednesday “recognising the rights of all people” in the Holy Land is a primary condition for dialogue.

The pope, who spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the crisis on Tuesday, made his comments to a group of visiting Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.

“The Holy Land is for us Christians the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind,” he said. He spoke of dialogue between religions “and also in civil society”.

“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,” he said.

Germany, France warn citizens in Jerusalem 

Germany is concerned that violent clashes could erupt in the Middle East following reports that US President Donald Trump would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, its Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

France’s Foreign Ministry also warned on its website that demonstrations were expected and that its nationals should avoid them and any large crowds in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

In an update of its travel advice for Israel and the Palestinian territories, the German ministry in Berlin said: “From December 6, 2017, there may be demonstrations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Violent clashes can not be ruled out.”

It advised its travellers in Jerusalem to closely monitor the situation via local media and avoid the affected areas.

Palestinian envoy says US recognition of Jerusalem is “declaring war” 

US President Donald Trump would effectively be making a declaration of war if he recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Palestinians’ chief representative to Britain said on Wednesday.

“If he 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,” Manuel Hassassian said in a BBC radio interview.

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“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.

Hamas says US Jerusalem embassy move would cross ‘every red line’ 

Hamas chief Ismail Haniya warned Tuesday that a US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the city as Israel’s capital would be a “dangerous escalation” that crosses “every red line”.

“The American administration’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the occupation’s capital and moving its embassy to Jerusalem crosses every red line,” the head of the Palestinian movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, said in a letter to Arab and Muslim world leaders.

“Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is a dangerous escalation and provides cover for the extremist government of (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to carry out its plan to Judaize the city of Jerusalem.”

Turkey warns US that Jerusalem embassy move is “grave mistake” 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that it would be a “grave mistake” for the United States to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and that he had warned US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Before a bilateral meeting with Tillerson at NATO headquarters, Cavusoglu said: “It would be a grave mistake (to move the US embassy). It will not bring any stability … but rather chaos and instability.”

“The whole world is against this,” he said, adding that he had already told Tillerson how he felt and would reiterate it at the meeting at NATO during the alliance’s foreign ministers’ meeting.

The Turkish government’s spokesperson on Wednesday said that the United States’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will plunge the region and the world into “a fire with no end in sight”.

“Declaring Jerusalem a capital is disregarding history and the truths in the region, it is a big injustice/cruelty, shortsightedness, foolishness/madness, it is plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

“I call on everyone to act logically, respect the agreements they signed and behave reasonably, avoid risking world peace for domestic politics or other reasons,” he stressed.

US plan to move Israel embassy sign of ‘failure’, Iran’s leader says 

US plans to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem are a sign of incompetence and failure, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.

“That they claim they want to announce Quds as the capital of occupied Palestine is because of their incompetence and failure,” Khamenei said, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem, according to his official website.

He made the remarks to a group of top Iranian officials, regional officials and religious figures attending a conference in Tehran. Iran has long supported a number of Palestinian militant groups opposed to Israel.

“The issue of Palestine today is at the top of the political issues for Muslims and everyone is obligated to work and struggle for the freedom and salvation of the people of Palestine,” Khamenei said.

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At the same gathering, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “Quds belongs to Islam, Muslims and the Palestinians, and there is no place for new adventurism by global oppressors,” according to Mizan, the news site for the Iranian judiciary.

Iran wants “peace and stability” in the region but will not tolerate the violation of Islamic holy sites, Rouhani said. “No Muslim population, including Iran, will tolerate the violation of oppressors and Zionists against Islamic holy sites,” Rouhani said, according to Mizan.

The United States has not been able to reach its goals and seeks to destabilize the region, Khamenei said. “On the issue of Palestine, (US) hands are tied and they cannot advance their goals,” Khamenei said, saying the Palestinian people would be victorious.

“American government officials have said themselves that we have to start a war in the region to protect the security of the Zionist regime (Israel),” Khamenei said.

Certain rulers in the region are “dancing to America’s tune” Khamenei said, an indirect reference to Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia. “Whatever America wants, they’ll work against Islam to accomplish it,” he said.

Saudi king warns Trump against US embassy move to Jerusalem -agency 

Saudi King Salman told US President Donald Trump that any decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem before a permanent peace settlement is reached will inflame the feelings of Muslims, Saudi state-owned media said on Tuesday.

They said that King Salman had received a telephone call from Trump about developments in the region and the world.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques asserted to His Excellency the US president 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,” state news agency SPA said.

It quoted King Salman as saying that Saudi Arabia supported the Palestinian people and their historic rights and asserted 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…”

Egypt’s Sisi warns Trump over Jerusalem embassy move 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, one of Donald Trump’s closest allies in the Middle East, urged the US president to be cautious, his office said Tuesday, after reports Washington was planning to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

In a phone call, Sisi urged Trump “not to complicate the situation in the region by taking measures that jeopardise the chances of peace in the Middle East”, the Egyptian leader’s spokesman Bassem Radi said in a statement.

Sisi also confirmed “Egypt’s consistent position on maintaining the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international standards and relevant United Nations resolutions”, he said.

Syrian government condemns US Embassy move to Jerusalem

The Syrian government has also condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

“(The move) is the culmination of the crime of usurping Palestine and displacing the Palestinian people,” SANA said, quoting a Foreign Ministry source.

Morocco’s king warns Trump against Jerusalem embassy move 

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Tuesday warned US President Donald Trump against moving the American embassy to the contested holy city of Jerusalem.

In an open letter to the American president, the Moroccan king expressed his “deep personal concern” and “the great concern felt by Arab and Muslim states and peoples” over moves to recognise the city as Israel’s capital and transfer the US embassy there.

The monarch was writing as head of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Al-Quds Committee, which lobbies on issues related to the city, holy to three of the world’s major religions.

“The current step is likely to negatively impact the prospects of a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the letter said.

The king urged Trump to avoid anything that could “exacerbate feelings of frustration and disappointment, which are the basis of extremism and terrorism”.

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