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Pope urges respect for Jerusalem 'status quo'

06 December 2017

Pope Francis, speaking to Palestinians ahead of US President Donald Trump's announcement on Jerusalem, said on Wednesday "recognising the rights of all people" in the Holy Land is a primary condition for dialogue.

"I pray to the Lord that this identity may be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Middle East and of the entire world", Francis continued, "and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in an already convulsed worldwide panorama marked by so many cruel conflicts".

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

The news that the Mr. Trump intends to move the USA embassy, a process that could take several years, has brought strong protests not only from Palestinians but also from the Arab world and the European Union, who warn that the decision is likely to scuttle the peace process in the Middle East.

Palestinians, Arab and Muslim countries warn that a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would "unleash widespread public anger" and deal a death knee to the peace process.

"I can not silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days".

Pope Francis met with a Palestinian delegation in the Paul VI Audience Hall.

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. According to the BBC, the United States would be the first nation to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since the nation was founded in 1948.

Jerusalem, the pope said, holds a "special vocation for peace". Renewed conflict broke out in the Gaza Strip soon thereafter.

"In Dhaka we experienced a moment of strong interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, which gave me the opportunity to underline the openness of the heart as the base for the culture of encounter, for harmony and for peace", he said.

In addition, the pope hopes this new interreligious dialogue group can encourage the whole Palestinian society, especially Christians.

Pope urges respect for Jerusalem 'status quo'