World alarm at idea of Jerusalem hellfire

Top News | 7 Dec 2017

Global concern mounted as US President Donald Trump shaped to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, with Pope Francis joining many leaders warning of dangerous fallout.

But Trump looked set to ignore dire warnings against a move sure to trigger a surge of violence in the Middle East.

Tension mounted dramatically in the countdown to a speech by Trump this morning, with an administration official revealing: "He will say the United States government recognizes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He views this as a recognition of reality - historic reality and modern reality."

Plunging further into a dispute over a city considered holy by major religions, Trump was also set to order the start of planning to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though the official said finding a site and then building a mission "will be a matter of some years."

The status of Jerusalem is a critical issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming the city as their capital. But the international community insists Jerusalem is an issue to be resolved in a final peace pact.

In a frantic series of calls, leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the European Union, Britain, France, Germany and Turkey and others told Trump to back off. And from Beijing came a warning the plan could fuel tensions in the Middle East

As the calls grew more strident yesterday, Pope Francis joined the chorus by saying: "I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged. Jerusalem is a unique city - sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims."

He added that maintaining the status quo was important "to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world wracked by so many cruel conflicts."

Yet embattled Trump looked set on fulfilling a campaign pledge with a move that would delight powerful donors and the US evangelical base.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Editorial: Page 6

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