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Pope Francis voices concern over moving U.S. embassy to Jerusalem

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Calls for avoiding "new elements of tension" in a world already marked by "so many cruel conflicts"

At the end of today’s general audience, Pope Francis made an appeal “for all to agree to respect the status quo” of Jerusalem, in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations. This appeal comes on the same day that the United States is expected to announce the transferral of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. “My thoughts go to Jerusalem and I cannot keep silent my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the past days,” he said.

In his appeal, the pope invited the whole world to act with “wisdom and prudence” to avoid “new elements of tension.” “The world panorama is already shaken and marked by so many cruel conflicts,” he insisted. Especially since Jerusalem “is a unique city,” sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, it has “a special vocation to peace,” said the head of the Catholic Church.

This declaration comes on the day when the American president, Donald Trump, is scheduled to announce at 1pm local time the movement of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, thus recognizing it as the capital of the State of Israel.

On December 5, Trump communicated his decision to the King of Jordan and to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. The latter immediately called Pope Francis to discuss the subject with him, reported Vatican Radio in Italian today.

For now, the international community recognizes Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is claimed as the capital by both Palestinians and Israelis. In 1980, a United Nations Security Council resolution declared “null and void” the Israeli law defining Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital.

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