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Pope calls for 'status quo' of Jerusalem to be respected

08 December 2017
Pope calls for 'status quo' of Jerusalem to be respected

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.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday reversed decades of US policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump is expected to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem is a final-status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides", Mr. Guterres said.

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. 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.

Speaking during a weekly address in Vatican, the Pope said: "I can not keep silent on my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the past days".

He appealed that everyone should respect the status quo of the city, according to United Nations resolutions.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Pope Francis agreed in a phone call on Thursday that any attempts to change Jerusalem's status should be avoided, sources in Erdogan's office said. "We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division", the Christian leaders wrote on 6 December.

In his comments to the group, Francis expressed his hope for "peace and prosperity" for the Palestinian people and called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land. Francis, former Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II all visited Israel and Palestinian territories.

This irked Israel because his predecessor had always gone first to Israel and entered the territories from Israel.