A cacophony of angry and despairing voices across the Middle East and the world have urged Donald Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at a planned speech on Wednesday, warning him that any such announcement would destroy the peace process, strengthen the extremists and weaken the US’s standing in the world.
The pope issued an unusually heartfelt plea to the president to respect the status quo on the city, and to conform with UN resolutions. He told thousands of people at his general audience: “I cannot keep quiet about my deep worry about the situation that has been created in the last few days.”
Pope Francis said he hoped “wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts”.
The spokesman for the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the US was “plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight”. He added that the Organisation for Islamic Co-operation would meet in Istanbul on 13 December in a special session to co-ordinate a response.
The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, disclosed he had told the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, that Washington was making a grave mistake, and the whole world was against the decision. Turkey has suggested it might cut diplomatic ties with Israel if the plan goes ahead.
British prime minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that she would call Trump about his proposed announcement.
“The status of Jerusalem should be determined as a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians and Jerusalem should be a shared capital,” she said.
Both Germany and France, fierce critics of the decision, updated travel advice to their citizens, warning of possible clashes in Israel and the occupied territories.
Trump is expected to declare formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel later on Wednesday, breaking with years of precedent and potentially leading to unpredictable consequences for the Middle East.