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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Saudi Arabia says US announcement on Jerusalem to hurt peace process

The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) called for a summit of Muslim countries if the US is to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

A picture taken on December 4, 2017 shows a general view of the skyline of the old city of Jerusalem, with the Dome of the Rock (L) in the Aqsa Compund. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP
A picture taken on December 4, 2017 shows a general view of the skyline of the old city of Jerusalem, with the Dome of the Rock (L) in the Aqsa Compund. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP

Saudi Arabia said that any US announcement on the status of Jerusalem before a settlement is reached in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would hurt the peace process and heighten tensions in the region.

"Any US announcement on the status of Jerusalem prior to a final settlement would have a detrimental impact on the peace process and would heighten tensions in the region," Saudi Arabia’s ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman said in a statement.

"The kingdom's policy has been and remains in support of the Palestinian people, and this has been communicated to the US administration."

The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) called for a summit of Muslim countries if the US is to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"If the United States takes the step of recognising Jerusalem as the so-called capital of Israel, we unanimously recommend holding a meeting at the level of council of foreign ministers followed by an Islamic summit as soon as possible," the 57-member body said in a statement on Monday.

The OIC also said that the move to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem would be viewed as a “blatant attack on the Arab and Islamic nations”.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Most countries, including the US, do not formally recognise it as the capital of Israel. All foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.

Some US and foreign officials have also voiced their opposition to the possibility of US president Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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The White House said it would not take any action on Monday on whether to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, something that Mr Trump had promised to do in his presidential campaign.

According to a number of US officials, Mr Trump is expected to sign the legal waiver that would delay plans to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for another six months — something that every US president has done since 1995, reported Reuters.

"Senior [officials] in [State Department's Near Eastern Affairs bureau] and a number of ambassadors from the region expressed their deep concern about doing this," one official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that the concerns focused on "security”.

Meanwhile, during a phone call with Mr Trump, French president Emmanuel Macron "expressed his concern over the possibility that the United States would unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.