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Arabs, Europe, UN reject Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

| Updated: December 08, 2017 11:05:42


A Palestinian demonstrator burns a US flag during a protest in Gaza City on Wednesday. - Reuters photo A Palestinian demonstrator burns a US flag during a protest in Gaza City on Wednesday. - Reuters photo

Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East on Wednesday condemned the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an incendiary move in a volatile region and Palestinians said Washington was abandoning its leading role as a peace mediator.

The European Union and United Nations also voiced alarm at US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, the Reuters news agency reported.

Major US allies came out against Trump’s reversal of decades of US and broad international policy on Jerusalem.

France rejected the “unilateral” decision while appealing for calm in the region. Britain said the move would not help peace efforts and Jerusalem should ultimately be shared by Israel and a future Palestinian state. Germany said Jerusalem’s status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution.

Israel, by contrast, applauded Trump’s move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a pre-recorded video message that it was “an important step towards peace” and it was “our goal from Israel’s first day”.

He added that any peace accord with the Palestinians would have to include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and he urged other countries to follow Trump’s example.

Trump upended decades of US policy in defiance of warnings from around the world that the gesture risks aggravating conflict in the tinderbox Middle East.

The status of Jerusalem is home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

Israel deems Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital dating to antiquity, and its status is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a pre-recorded speech, said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine” and that Trump’s move was “tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator.”

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