Trump recognises Al-Quds as Israeli capital


WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as Israel's capital on Wednesday, a historic decision that overturns decades of US policy and risks triggering a fresh spasm of violence in the Middle East.

"Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital," the US leader said in a speech from the White House. "Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace," added the US leader, declaring: "It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is nothing more or less than recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do."

Trump's announcement plunges the United States into a decades-long dispute over a city considered holy by Jews, Muslims and Christians, and flies in the face of warnings from US allies and leaders across the Middle East.

The US president also kicked off the process of moving the American 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 said his decision marked the start of a "new approach" to solving the thorny conflict between Israel and the Palestinians -- as he insisted Washington remained intent on pursuing a peace deal for the region. "Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it," said the US leader, who declared that "the United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides."

"This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace," Trump said, as he announced that Vice President Mike Pence would travel to the region in the coming days.

"So today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate." The move has set off warning bells around the world, and is poised to upend years of careful US policy and ignore dire warnings of a historic misstep that could trigger a surge of violence in the Middle East. Most of the international community does not formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved in final status negotiations.

The leaders of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the European Union, France, Germany and Turkey have all also warned Trump against the move. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for a summit of the main pan-Islamic body in Istanbul on December 13 to discuss the issue. Hamas said President Donald Trump´s decision on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel´s capital would "open the gates of hell" on US interests in the region.

"This decision will open the gates of hell on US interests in the region," Ismail Radwan, an official with the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, told journalists after Trump´s announcement. He called on Arab and Islamic states to "cut off economic and political ties with the US embassy and expel American ambassadors to cripple" this decision.

The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, home to sites holy to Islam, Judaism and Christianity, important was a statement from Pope Francis, speaking hours before US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, called on Wednesday for the city’s “status quo” to be respected, saying new tension in the Middle East would further inflame world conflicts.

“I make a heartfelt appeal so that all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations,” the Pope said. China too warned on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump´s plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel´s capital could fuel tensions in the region. "We are concerned about the possible escalation of tensions," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing.

Anticipating protests, US government officials and their families have been ordered to avoid Jerusalem´s Old City and the West Bank. On Wednesday, further warnings came from Britain, China, Syria and the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process. "We view the reports that we have heard with concern, because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a negotiated settlement," British foreign minister Boris Johnson said as he arrived for a NATO meeting in Brussels.

Most of the international community does not formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel´s capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved in final status negotiations.

Mariana Baabar adds: Pakistan on Wednesday while expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people joined the loud chorus of voices resounding from all corners of the globe, while strongly opposing and voicing concern at US President Donald Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The government here also feared that such a move of shifting the US embassy to the “occupied City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif will alter the legal and historical status of the city”.

Instead, Pakistan renewed its call for the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Spokesman at the Foreign Office while completely opposing this ill thought-out move from Washington commented, “Islamabad opposes the US President Donald Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel´s capital and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as this move by the United States would definitely hit the efforts of enduring peace in the Middle East”.

The spokesman reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to express solidarity with the people of Palestine, adding that Pakistan fully endorses the concluding statement of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the move. The OIC has threatened that all 57 member states would sever ties with any state that transfers its embassy to Jerusalem.

“Any such move would constitute a clear violation against international law and the resolutions of the UN’s Security Council,” the FO spokesman added. The spokesman called on the US to fully implement UN Security Council’s resolutions and refrain from changing the historic and legal position of Jerusalem.

Islamabad also pointed out that this US move would also sidestep decades of global consensus on this issue, undermine regional peace and security as well as derail any prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

“The people and government of Pakistan are unequivocally opposed to the reported plan of shifting the US Embassy and we fully endorse the recently adopted final communiqué of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) on this issue”, the spokesman added. Meanwhile a statement from Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi´s office said Pakistan does not recognise Israel and called on the US to "refrain" from the move.

The change would "constitute a clear violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions", the statement warned. "It would also sidestep decades of global consensus on this issue, undermine regional peace and security as well as derail any prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East," it added.

Khaqan Abbasi reaffirmed Pakistan´s solidarity with the Palestinian people and renewed Islamabad´s call for the establishment of a Palestinian state "with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital", using the Arabic term for the city.