International leaders react to Trump’s Jerusalem move

*US President, Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu

President Donald Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday, triggering immediate condemnation and concern from leaders in the Middle East and around the world. In a statement from the White House, the president defended his decision as “nothing more or less than recognition of reality.”

Jerusalem’s status has been contested for a millennia, its Old City home to religious sites of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their spiritual capital, and these tensions have helped fuel the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Between “dangerous repercussions,” a “red line” and a “declaration of war,” international leaders’ reactions reveal a consensus that the move will only make things in an already volatile region worse.

Hamas: ‘A war declaration’

Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniya called for a new intifada, or uprising, in the face of Israel, labeling Trump’s move a “war declaration against Palestinians.” The announcement prompted riots in the streets of Gaza, where demonstrators burned tires and set fire to pictures of the U.S. president.

“This decision has killed the peace process, has killed the Oslo (accord), has killed the settlement process,” Haniya said, describing it “an aggression, a declaration of war on us, on the best Muslim and Christian shrines in the heart of Palestine, Jerusalem.”

The Gaza-based Sunni militant and political group, which the U.S. designates a terror organization, has long held to a policy of refusing to recognize Israel’s existence as a state.

Palestinian protesters burn the US and Israeli flags in Gaza City on December 7, 2017. Haniya called for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising. This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada,” the head of the armed Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip said in a speech.

Palestinian Authority: US can no longer be mediator in peace process

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lambasted Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, saying he refused to acknowledge it and that this marked the end of America’s role as mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Prior to Trump’s official announcement, Abbas warned of “the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world.”

This ‘could fuel terrorism,’ says Jordan’s King Abdullah

Jordan’s King Abdullah told the American president his decision would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region,” according to a palace statement.

“There is no alternative to a two-state solution, and Jerusalem is key to any peace agreement,” Abdullah later said from Turkish capital Ankara. Jordan is home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees.

Saudi Arabia’s royal court: ‘Disappointment’

Trump’s actions “exemplify a drastic regression in the efforts to move the peace process forward, and is a shift away from the United States’ historically impartial position with regard to the issue of Jerusalem,” Saudi Arabia’s royal court said in a statement, adding that it “will further complicate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Jerusalem decision ‘undermines chances for peace,’ says Egypt’s Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed “the necessity of not complicating the state of the region by taking measures that would undermine the chances for peace in the Middle East.”

The country of 95 million is one of only three Arab League states recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a state.

Israel’s Netanyahu: ‘Forever grateful’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly praised the Trump administration’s move.

“Thank you President Trump for today’s historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful,” Netanyahu said.

The recognition, he added, “reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.”

“There is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Turkey: a ‘red line’

The U.S. is “plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said through a spokesperson.

On being informed of Trump’s decision, Erdogan called Jerusalem a “red line for Muslims,” warning: “We could go as far as cutting diplomatic ties with Israel over the issue.” Local media reported protesters outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday.

UK government: Trump’s move is ‘unhelpful’

Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement, “We disagree with the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement.”

“We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it,” she added.

May reiterated the U.K.’s position that any status agreement should be a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and that Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.

Germany advocates for a two-state solution

“The German government does not support this position, because the status of Jerusalem is to be resolved in the framework of a two-state solution,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted as saying by a spokesman.

Relations between the current White House and the EU’s biggest economy have hit some awkward patches under Trump after he hit out at the country for its trade and immigration policies and repeatedly criticized NATO.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference at the end of EU Eastern Partnership summit at the European Council in Brussels on Nov. 24, 2017.

France urges calm and restraint

French President Emmanuel Macron was the first EU leader to call out Trump’s action, saying that any decision on the ancient city’s status had to be settled through negotiation. He also called for calm and restraint.

“France does not approve the US decision. France supports the Two-State Solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States,” Macron said in a statement via twitter.

France and Germany have both updated travel advice for their citizens over concerns of potential clashes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, looks on during a news conference in Salzburg, Austria, on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.

Vatican: Respect for ‘the status quo’

Pope Francis also spoke out, saying from the Vatican, “I make a heartfelt appeal so that all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations.” The Vatican’s official stance supports a two-state solution to the religious and territorial conflict.






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