Pope Francis urges Trump to respect 'status quo' in Jerusalem

Pope Francis urges Trump to respect 'status quo' in Jerusalem

"My thoughts go to Jerusalem and I can not keep silent my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the past days", the pontiff said during the weekly General Audience at the Vatican.

"Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims", he said, adding that it was home to sites deemed holy by followers of the three major monotheistic faiths.

President Trump will reportedly announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will initiate a process to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The Pope said he "cannot keep silent" over the "situation that has arisen in recent days", and called for respect for the "status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations".

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said it would mark the end of years of peace efforts and have "dangerous consequences" for the "security and stability of the region and of the world".

On Dec. 6, Pope Francis appealed for Jerusalem's status quo to be respected and for "wisdom and prudence" to prevail over the city, hours before President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, according to the Vatican Radio.

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West Jerusalem is where Israel's government is based, but Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

He said he hoped "wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many and cruel conflicts".

Senior U.S. officials said Trump is due on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and set in motion the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to the ancient city.

The Pope made his comments on Wednesday during a previously scheduled meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders.

European countries have also expressed their concern regarding the issue in various statements.

Schulz said Trump's decision risked setting back the peace process in the Middle East.

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