Pope makes 'heartfelt appeal' to preserve 'status quo' in Jerusalem

Pope makes 'heartfelt appeal' to preserve 'status quo' in Jerusalem

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.

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

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.

Arab leaders have warned the Trump administration's decision would subvert decades of US foreign policy and risk triggering further conflicts and violence in the Middle East.

Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned the move is a threat to the Middle East peace process. In this regard, I can not remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days and, at the same time, I wish to make heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.

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.

In Bangladesh, a majority Muslim country, the pope's trip was aimed at fostering dialogue between Islam and Catholicism, following in the footsteps of the previous papal visits by Pope Paul VI and Saint John Paul II.

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According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed in the late stages of the talks.

Prior to his general audience, the Pope met with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders for a scheduled audience, urging dialogue that is respectful of everyone's rights in the Holy Land.

The change is a recognition of "reality", officials said, both the historic reality that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish nation since ancient times and the modern reality that the city is the seat of Israel's government, housing its legislature, supreme court, prime minister, and executive agencies.

The Vatican and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1994.

At the meeting, the pope said dialogue between all parties would come only through "recognising the rights of all people", noting that the Holy Land was the "land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind". Renewed conflict broke out in the Gaza Strip soon thereafter.

The pope highlighted the value of dialogue and its importance for the Catholic Church, especially in the birthplace of Christianity.

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