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Respect status quo in Jerusalem - Pope says
06 December 2017, 08:07 | Erica Roy
Pacific Press LightRocket via Getty Images
The pontiff has called for the "status quo" to be respected, after Mr Trump indicated the embassy would be relocated from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the Holy Sites of their respective religions there, and it has a special vocation to peace", the Pope continued in his address Wednesday.
He made the appeal during his weekly Wednesday audience, ahead of the expected United States announcement by President Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 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.
My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem.
Pope Francis has appealed to respect the "status quo" of Jerusalem in accordance "with the relevant United Nations resolutions".
The pope told thousands of people at his general audience: "I can not keep quiet about my deep worry about the situation that has been created in the last few days".
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 appealed "that everyone respects the status quo of the city", according to United Nations resolutions.
Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - now occupied by Israel - might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
The change is a recognition of "reality", officials said, both the historic reality that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish nation since ancient times and the modern reality that the city is the seat of Israel's government, housing its legislature, supreme court, prime minister, and executive agencies.
According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed in the late stages of the talks.
"I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world", he said, "and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts".
The Vatican and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1994.
"I wanted, also in this case, to express the closeness of Christ and of the Church to a people that has suffered due to conflict and repression, and which now is slowly walking toward a new condition of freedom and peace", he said.
"Along with meeting the Catholic community, I had a chance to meet Myanmar's authorities, encouraging the country's efforts for peace and hoping that all the different components of the nation, none excluded, could cooperate in such a process with mutual respect", he said.
"The Holy Land is for us Christians the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind".
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