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Pope makes 'heartfelt appeal' to preserve 'status quo' in Jerusalem

06 December 2017

The conversation was "part of a series of contacts made by the president of the Palestinian National Authority after his conversation with Donald Trump during which - according to Abbas' spokesman - the USA president announced his intention to move the American embassy", Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Vatican Radio.

Trump stated, on Tuesday, that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but did not mention whether the Middle Eastern country's USA embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to the "new" lead city. numerous speculative reports suggest that the American head of state will establish Jerusalem's only embassy.

"At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone's commitment to respect the city's status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations resolutions", Pope Francis said to his weekly general audience.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear his intention to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy there from its current position in Tel Aviv.

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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.

The pope is effectively telling the president, without naming him, not to proceed down this road, warning that it can lead to even more conflict in the Holy Land and the Middle East. He told thousands of pilgrims from all continents of his "deep concern" at the proposed change in the US policy toward Jerusalem which is considered sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city's status is marked as a final status issue to be decided in negotiations over a final peace agreement. Our solemn advice and plea is for the USA to continue recognizing the present global status of Jerusalem.

Early Wednesday, Francis met with a delegation of Palestinian religious and intellectual leaders who were at the Vatican for a previously scheduled meeting with the Vatican's interreligious dialogue office.

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"Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace", Francis said.

Pope Francis stressed the importance of dialogue and "recognizing the rights of all people" in the Holy Land in an address to Palestinians.

"I wished, also in this case, to express Christ's and the Church's closeness to a people that have suffered due to conflicts and repressions and are now slowly moving toward a new condition of freedom and peace", Francis said.

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Pope makes 'heartfelt appeal' to preserve 'status quo' in Jerusalem