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World leaders slam Jerusalem move

A Palestinian woman prays at Al-Aqsa compound. (Reuters)
JEDDAH: Leaders across the Middle East and the rest of the world warned Wednesday of disastrous consequences as US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — a decision that overturns decades of US policy.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” the US leader declared from the White House. “Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said, urging calm and “the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US can no longer play the role of peace broker. “These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,” Abbas said after Trump’s announcement.
He said Trump’s move amounted to “an announcement of US withdrawal from playing the role it has been playing in the past decade in sponsoring the peace process.”
Palestinian officials declared the Mideast peace process “finished.” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met with European diplomats and told them that the US move “will fuel conflict and increase violence in the entire region.”
Turkey slammed the announcement as irresponsible and illegal. “We condemn the irresponsible statement of the US administration... the decision is against international law and relevant UN resolutions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned after a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdallah that the move would “play into the hands” of terror groups.
Erdogan has already called a summit meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Dec. 13 to discuss the issue.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said that Trump’s announcement did not change the city’s legal status.
Jordan condemned the move as amounting to a violation of international law and the UN charter.
“The decision of the American president … constitutes a violation of decisions of international law and the United Nations charter,” said government spokesman Mohammed Momani.
Mohammed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Egypt’s former vice president who now lives in self-imposed exile, suggested Arabs do have options, including radically reducing the billions of Arab money flowing to America and a radical downsizing of diplomatic, military and intelligence relations with the US.
Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, said: “It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace.”
“The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East,” he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron branded as “regrettable” Trump’s decision, calling for efforts to “avoid violence at all costs.”
“This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Macron told reporters at a news conference in Algiers.
Palestinian resistance group Hamas which controls Gaza said Trump’s move was a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people.”
Hamas urged Arabs and Muslims to “undermine the US interests in the region” and to “shun Israel.”
Pope Francis said that maintaining Jerusalem’s status quo was important “in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres implicitly criticized Trump’s decision, warning that the city’s status must be resolved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“From day one as secretary-general of the UN, I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said.
“Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Guterres said.

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