Pope Francis contradicts Donald Trump over USA embassy move

Pope Francis contradicts Donald Trump over USA embassy move

As part of the plan, the Trump administration is expected to eventually move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and while Israel welcomes the changes, both Palestinians and Arab leaders have voiced concern that the move could jeopardize the peace process in the Middle East, according to BBC.

"I cannot keep silent my deep concern about the situation that has occurred in recent days, while urging everyone to respect the status quo of the city in accordance with United Nations resolutions", said Pope Francis in a speech in Vatican City in the afternoon.

In his appeal, Pope Francis 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 vocation to peace".

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.

Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - now occupied by Israel - might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Trump, on the other hand, seemed prepared to announce the move, drawing warnings from Middle Eastern and European leaders that overturning the United States' long-standing policy would further complicate peace negotiations. He told thousands of pilgrims from all continents of his "deep concern" at the proposed change in the USA policy toward Jerusalem which is considered sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

When Francis visited the Holy Land in 2014, he flew directly by helicopter from Jordan to what the Vatican program called the "State of Palestine" and visited Israel last.

We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division. The Holy See has always been against any change in the status of Jerusalem.

He expressed his hope for "peace and prosperity" for the Palestinian people.

"The primary condition of that dialogue is reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be", he said.

Earlier in the morning, in a meeting scheduled before President Trump's intention was made known, Francis greeted a group of Palestinian religious and intellectual leaders, and renewed his call for a dialogue in the Holy Land that respects the rights of everyone living there.

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