x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

Trump's Jerusalem embassy move: latest updates

The latest on President Donald Trump's expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday

- US president Donald Trump will today recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and start a “years long process” to move Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

- The move will officially be declared by Mr Trump at 10pm Abu Dhabi time in a formal address. Follow the latest developments and reaction from the region here: (Times in GMT+4)

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10.00pm

Donald Trump goes on live television to reverse decades of US policy and declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

"I have determined that it's time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," he said, judging it to be in the best interests of the USA and the "pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians".

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4.20pm

Iran says it will not 'tolerate' US decision on Jerusalem

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani blasted Mr Trump's plan to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital on Wednesday, saying it would not be tolerated.

Iran "will not tolerate a violation of Islamic sanctities". he said. "Muslims must stand united against this major plot."

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3pm

Pope Francis calls for "status quo" of Jerusalem to be respected

Francis made the appeal during his weekly audience, after speaking with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and soon after meeting with a delegation of Palestinian religious and intellectual representatives.

Francis said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments concerning Jerusalem, saying the city was a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a "special vocation for peace."

He asked that "everyone respects the status quo of the city".

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2.50pm

Amman calls for emergency Arab League meeting

Jordan and the Palestinians on Wednesday requested an emergency Arab foreign ministers' meeting, the Arab League said.

The meeting is likely to be convened on Saturday, a diplomatic source told AFP.

Before the plan's announcement late on Tuesday, Arab League member state delegates issued a joint statement saying it would constitute a "clear assault on the Arab nation and the rights of Palestinians and all Muslims and Christians".

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2.34pm

Erdogan sets OIC summit for December 13 to discuss Trump's plans

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a leaders' summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on December 13 to discuss the expected US move.

"In the face of developments that arouse sensitivity over the status of Jerusalem, Mr President is calling a leaders' summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in order to display joint action among Islamic countries," presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara. Turkey currently holds the chairmanship of the OIC.

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2.04pm

Netanyahu refrains from commenting on US intentions

In his first speech since plans were confirmed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refrained from commenting on US President Donald Trump's intention to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Netanyahu, speaking at a diplomatic conference organised by The Jerusalem Post, instead focused on Israel's international security and economic ties with countries.

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1.51pm

Why Trump's decision on Jerusalem changes very little at all

The National columnist HA Hellyer writes: "Previous American presidents have hinted at recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but this is the first time anyone has gone this far. And that obliterates the idea that the Trump administration can be viewed as a neutral arbiter."

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1.19pm

Turkey says US decision will ignite 'fire'

Turkey said on Wednesday that the US decision to recogise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel risks igniting "fire" in the region.

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12.50pm

Damascus condemns US decision on Jerusalem

The Syrian government condemned on Wednesday Mr Trump's plan to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"This is a dangerous initiative by the US administration that clearly exemplifies the United States' contempt for international law," a foreign ministry official quoted by the official SANA news agency said.

Palestinian protesters prepare to burn a picture of US president Donald Trump in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on December 6, 2017. Said Khatib / AFP
Palestinian protesters prepare to burn a picture of US president Donald Trump in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on December 6, 2017. Said Khatib / AFP

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12.40pm

UN Middle East envoy: Future status of Jerusalem must be negotiated

The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process said Wednesday that Jerusalem's future status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians and warned of the repercussions of any action over the disputed city.

"The [UN] secretary general has spoken many times on this issue... and he has said that we all have to be very careful with the actions we take because of the repercussions of these actions," Nickolay Mladenov said.

"The future of Jerusalem is something that needs to be negotiated with Israel, with the Palestinians, sitting side by side directly in negotiations."

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12.30pm

China: US Jerusalem move could cause 'escalation' of tensions

Beijing 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 said.

"All relevant parties should bear regional peace and tranquility in mind, be cautious in words and deeds, avoid impacting the foundation for the settlement of the issue of Palestine, and avoid causing new confrontation in the region."

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10.35am

UK foreign secretary expresses concern

Boris Johnson said: "Let's wait and see what the president says exactly, but we view the reports that we've heard with concern."

He told reporters at Nato headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday that Britain thinks "Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians — a negotiated settlement that we want to see."

Mr Johnson added: "We have no plans ourselves to move our embassy."

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Pope Francis speaks with Abbas over US intention to move embassy

Pope Francis has spoken with the Palestinian leader about the US decision to recognizse Jerusalem as Israel's capital and is meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and academic leaders.

Vatican officials said Wednesday's meeting was organised well in advance by the Vatican's interreligious dialogue office, and that it was purely coincidental that it fell on the same day as the US announcement, expected in the early afternoon in Washington.

The Vatican said the Pope spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after President Donald Trump called Mr Abbas to advise him of his decision. The call came at Abbas' initiative.

The Vatican has long sought an internationally guaranteed status for Jerusalem that safeguards its sacred character for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

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9.40am

Turkey PM says move will make the region's problems "unresolvable"

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke about the possibility at a news conference with South Korean officials in Seoul.

Mr Yildirim said it was vital for the Middle Eastern region and for global peace that Mr Trump not make such an announcement. The prime minister said a declaration could cause religious clashes and destroy efforts toward formation of a Palestinian state.

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US officials said the move will include two components. The National's Washington correspondent Joyce Karam reports:

Firstly, “it will recognise that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel which we view it as a recognition of reality, both the historical and modern reality”, a senior US official said in a call with reporters.

Secondly, Mr Trump will direct the US State Department to move the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “It is not practical to make this move tomorrow, it will require time,” a senior US official said, estimating a period of three years at least before it's complete.