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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Bucking calls to maintain the status quo, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that his administration will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Both Palestinians and Israelis have long considered Jerusalem their capital, a sacred city that plays a major role in Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches,” said Mr. Trump. “My announcement today marks the beginning to a new approach to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”
President Trump also directed the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City. It’s a pledge he made on the 2016 campaign trail that was popular with Evangelical Christians and hard-line Israeli supporters.
Worldwide, leaders lined up in opposition to the decision. President Trump spoke with Middle Eastern leaders on Tuesday to prepare them for the announcement. Four of the leaders he spoke with warned him against making the move, among them Jordan’s King Abdullah.
“There is no alternative to a two-state solution and Jerusalem is key to any peace agreement,” said Abdullah, speaking in Ankara alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also opposed to Trump’s expected move.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned President Trump there would be grave consequences for his actions. Critics have said the move will derail peace talks.
“Changing the status of Jerusalem, from the U.S., would be reneging on a promise and a stab in the back of the peace process,” said Husam Zomlot with the Palestinian Liberation Organization General Delegation to the U.S.
Eran Lerman, a former Israeli foreign policy deputy, called the Palestinians “delusional.”
“Driving a carving knife across and through and meandering, across a living city, would be a mistake,” he said.
Commenting on the situation, Pope Francis told Palestinians that “recognizing the rights of all people,” in the Holy Land is a primary condition for dialog.
“I cannot keep silent about my deep concern over the situation that has arisen in recent days and, at the same time, a heartfelt appeal so that everyone would be committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” he said. “Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the Holy Places of their respective religions, and has a special vocations to peace.”
He also called on President Trump to rethink his decision, calling for “wisdom and prudence” to avoid further conflict.
The announcement is expected to set off a wave of potential violence in the region.
The State Department has issued a travel warning for Jerusalem and the West Bank. U.S. troops are standing by after Palestinian factions called for protests and “three days of rage” following the president’s announcement.
The Arab League announced it will hold an emergency meeting on Jerusalem this Saturday. The meeting was requested by the Palestinians and Jordan.