JERUSALEM (AP) — President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.
U.S. officials say Trump will also instruct the State Department on Wednesday to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalized first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least 3 or 4 years, presuming there is no future change in U.S. policy.
The U.S. officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to publicly preview Trump’s announcement.
Several world leaders have expressed concern over the move.
A senior Palestinian official says President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital means that “the peace process is finished” because Washington “has already pre-empted the outcome.”
Under an international consensus backed by successive U.S. presidents, Jerusalem’s fate is to be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Palestinians seek a capital in east Jerusalem, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967. Unlike its predecessors, the current Israeli government rejects partition of the city.
Hanan Ashrawi warned Wednesday that a U.S. shift on Jerusalem is a dangerous “game changer.”
Trump has promised a Mideast deal, but Ashrawi says that “there is no way that there can be talks with the Americans.”
Ashrawi says the Palestinian leadership is to hold consultations soon and decide on the next move.
Britain’s top diplomat is calling on the U.S. administration to present a Mideast peace plan quickly following President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels.
Johnson says the decision clearly “makes it more important than ever that the long-awaited American proposals on the Middle East peace process are now brought forward.”
He says that should happen “as a matter of priority.”
Tillerson did not comment on the president’s decision but says it hasn’t been a major topic with fellow diplomats during his meetings this week at NATO headquarters.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned President Donald Trump’s imminent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The state TV’s website quotes Khamenei as saying that “when they (U.S.) claim that they want to declare Jerusalem as the capital of occupied Palestine, it shows their inability. ”
He also added that he is convinced “the victory will ultimately be for the Islamic nation and Palestine” and that “the Palestinian people will be victorious” in their struggle.
Iran does not recognize Israel, and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.
China has expressed concerns over “possible aggravation of regional tensions” in response to the expected U.S. announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday the China would monitor developments on the issue.
He says the “issue of Jerusalem’s status is complicated and sensitive” and that “all sides should focus on regional peace and tranquility, act with caution, and avoid sabotaging the foundation for the settlement of Palestinian issues and triggering new confrontation in the region.”
China has provided the Palestinians with financial and technical aid. It also has built stronger ties with Israel, providing a large market for Israeli technology.
China says it views both Israel and the Palestinians as “important partners” in its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a mammoth Chinese-funded push to develop transport routes including ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry says President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to recognize of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “dangerous step” that will fuel global conflict.
The ministry in Damascus issued a statement on Wednesday calling Trump’s imminent move the “culmination of the crime of the seizing of Palestine and the displacement of the Palestinian people.”
It also urged Arab states to stop normalizing relations with Israel.
Two leading Lebanese newspapers have issued front page rebukes to President Donald Trump over his expected announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The An-Nahar compares the U.S. president to the late British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who a hundred years ago famously promised Palestine as a national home to the Jewish People, in what is known as the Balfour declaration.
The paper’s Wednesday headline reads: “Trump, Balfour of the century, gifts Jerusalem to Israel.”
The English-language Daily Star newspaper has published a full-page photo of Old City of Jerusalem capped by the Dome of the Rock beneath the headline: “No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of PALESTINE.”
Pope Francis is calling for the status quo of Jerusalem to be respected and for “wisdom and prudence” to prevail to avoid further conflict.
Francis made the appeal during his weekly Wednesday audience, ahead of the expected U.S. announcement by President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Francis said he was “profoundly concerned” about recent developments, and declared Jerusalem a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a “special vocation for peace.”
He appealed “that everyone respects the status quo of the city” according to U.N. resolutions.
He says: “I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the “whole world is against” President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and eventually move the U.S. Embassy there.
Cavusoglu’s remarks came just before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.
He says that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a “grave mistake.”
Cavusoglu says such a move would “not bring any stability, peace but rather chaos and instability.”
Israel’s justice minister says she welcomes Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem and encourages him to “move the embassy de facto” to Jerusalem.
Ayelet Shaked told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday that Trump has to go beyond the paperwork stage and not be intimidated by Arab threats of violence.
Shaked says: “I wouldn’t be worried about this event or the other. If Arab leaders take steps to prevent unrest, there won’t be any unrest.”