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World leaders chastise US over Jerusalem 'escalation'

Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital met with indignation by international community.

Jerusalem 'escalation'

US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital has been met with indignation by world leaders, drawing strong criticism in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Many feel Washington's move, announced on Wednesday after weeks of speculation, threatens to upend stability across the region and ruins any remaining prospects to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The US also intends to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump confirmed in his televised address.

Here is how head of states and senior officials reacted to Trump's announcement.

Michel Aoun, Lebanon's president, said the US decision threatened the peace process and stability in the wider Middle East.

Jordan, meanwhile, viewed the decision as illegal because it "consolidates the Israeli occupation" of East Jerusalem.

"The decision, which pre-empts the outcome of final status negotiations, fuels anger and inflames the passions of Muslims and Christians throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds," Mohammad al-Momani, spokesperson for the Jordanian government, said in a statement.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War with Syria, Egypt and Jordan, putting the entire city under de-factor Israeli control. The international community, however, has never recognised Israel's claims to all of Jerusalem.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar's foreign minister, said Trump's decision was a "death sentence" for all who seek peace and "a dangerous escalation".

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues in the conflict and has historically been relegated to final status negotiations.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and Israelis insisting that the city is its "unified" and indivisible capital.

Emmanuel Macron, French president, said on Twitter that Paris "doesn't approve of the decision" and "supports the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states".

Meanwhile, Pakistan said it "noted with grave concern" the US decision, which alters "the legal and historical status of the city".

"Such a step would constitute a clear violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions," the Pakistani prime minister's office said in a statement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "protecting the current status of Jerusalem is very important and it is important that the Islamic world act as one".

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of UK's Labour party, called Trump's recognition of Jerusalem is "a reckless threat to peace".

"The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict," he said in a post on Twitter.

Tunisian labour union UGTT said the decision was a "declaration of war" and called for mass protests, while Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, described it as the "mother of all dumb moves".

The reaction was markedly different from Israeli leaders, however.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said it was "a historic day" for the country.

Jerusalem "has been the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years," he said in a statement.

"Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years."

Reuven Rivlin, Israel's president, also welcomed Trump's announcement, saying "there is no more fitting or beautiful gift, as we approach 70 years of the State of Israel's independence".

He added: "The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the relocation of all embassies to the city, is a landmark in the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to our land."

But Raed Jarrar, Amnesty International USA's Middle East advocacy director, said no "country in the world recognises Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, making the decision to confer US recognition deeply troubling".

"Not only does this decision contribute to undermining the international rule of law, it also shows a total disregard for mass human rights violations that Palestinians are facing as a result of Israel's annexation policies."


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