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Pope urges respect for Jerusalem 'status quo'

06 December 2017, 08:02 | Taylor George

Pope urges respect for Jerusalem 'status quo'

Pope urges respect for Jerusalem 'status quo'

This comes hours ahead of an announcement by US President Donald Trump in which officials said he would recognise the disputed city as Israel's capital.

His appeal is clearly addressed to President Donald J. Trump, who will reportedly declare today that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City in a reversal of nearly seven decades of USA foreign policy.

The Pope has described Jerusalem as "a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims".

Weighing in on the controversial decision, the pontiff made a "heartfelt appeal" to all nations to "respect [Jerusalem's] status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations resolutions", as cited by Vatican Radio.

"I ask the Lord that this identity be preserved and reinforced for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a global panorama already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts", he said.

My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its "united and eternal" capital.

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.

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"I can not silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days", the Pope said in his weekly address.

Pope Francis called on President Donald Trump to respect the "status quo" and not move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Francis, former Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II all visited Israel and Palestinian territories. The Holy See has always been against any change in the status of Jerusalem.

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 leader of the Catholic Church said he "cannot keep silent" about the brewing conflict over Jerusalem's status.

The Vatican and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1994.

Most importantly the pope, who has recently been under scrutiny by some for not calling out the Rohingya by name during his trip and by others for not focusing enough on the persecution against Christians, stressed his commitment to fostering peace.

"In Dhaka we experienced a moment of strong interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, which gave me the opportunity to underline the openness of the heart as the base for the culture of encounter, for harmony and for peace", he said.



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