Washington: American President Donald Trump on Wednesday December 06, 2017 recognized Occupied Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- a highly controversial decision that overturns decades of US policy and risks triggering a fresh spasm of violence in the Middle East.
"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said from the White House.
"It's the right thing to do", Trump said.
The declaration calls into question seven decades of deliberate diplomatic ambiguity about the final status of a holy city vociferously claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians, according to AFP.
Trump said his decision marked the start of a "new approach" to solving the thorny conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump also kicked off the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, making good on a campaign promise dear to evangelical Christian and right wing Jewish voters -- as well as donors.
Trump's predecessors -- from Bill Clinton to George Bush -- made similar promises on the campaign trail, but quickly reneged upon taking office, and the burden of war and peace.
This most unlikely of presidents, who came to office with no foreign policy experience and denouncing experts, was determined to show his arrival in Washington spells the end of business as usual.
"Many presidents have said they want to do something and they didn't do it," Trump said in the hours leading up to his historic address.
"Whether it's courage or they changed their mind, I can't tell you," he said. "I think it's long overdue."
The announcement leaves many angry US allies and leaders across the World especially the Middle East trying to find a measured response and hoping that the tinderbox region is not destined for yet another round of bloodletting.
Saudi Arabia while expressing "great disappointment" over Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the royal court said the Kingdom had previously warned of the serious consequences of such an "irresponsible and unwarranted step."
On Tuesday, Saudi King Salman warned Trump that moving the US embassy for Israel to Jerusalem was a “dangerous step” that could rile Muslims worldwide.
"The Kingdom expresses its denunciation and deep regret that the (Trump) administration has taken this step, as it represents a great bias against the historic and permanent rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, which have been affirmed by the relevant international resolutions and have been recognized and supported by the international community," the statement said.
It said that although Trump's move does not diminish the "inalienable and preserved rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem and other occupied territories," it does "exemplify a drastic regression in the efforts to move the peace process forward."
"(It) is a shift away from the United States‘ historically impartial position with regard to the issue of Jerusalem, which will further complicate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," the royal court said.
It said Saudi Arabia is calling on the US administration to reverse its action and support the international will to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights.
"The Kingdom reaffirms the importance of finding a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative, so that the Palestinian people can regain their legitimate rights, which will strengthen security and stability in the region," the statement said."
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.
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.
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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