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Pope calls for 'status quo' of Jerusalem to be respected


Pope Francis says he can not remain silent about a White House plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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

"My thought now goes to Jerusalem. At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions", the pope said, in his weekly address.

He appealed "that everyone respects the status quo of the city", according to United Nations resolutions. Moreover - similar steps could be interpreted as a clear signal for the rejection of Washington's two-state solution to the conflict in the region.

The pope experienced first hand the consequences of war and conflict during his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh.

His appeal for Jerusalem comes shortly after news came out that President Trump would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a widely controversial decision that has provoked a mixed reaction from the global community.

Trump is due on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and set in motion the relocation of the US Embassy to the ancient city, senior US officials said, a decision that upends decades of US policy and risks fuelling violence in the Middle East.

Israel has traditionally always recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital; however, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state. Our solemn advice and plea is for the USA to continue recognizing the present worldwide status of Jerusalem.

Trump will make the announcement in a speech Wednesday - which will be closely watched by other world leaders who fear the move will undermine peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and spark protests across the Middle East.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian Peace Accords, the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed in the late stages of the talks.

Describing the city as "holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the holy sites of their respective religions", the Pope said Jerusalem enjoys a unique status that should be preserved.

In his comments to the group, Francis expressed his hope for "peace and prosperity" for the Palestinian people and called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land.

The Vatican and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1994.

Renewed conflict broke out in the Gaza Strip soon after.