Arabs, Europe, U.N. reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

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LONDON (Reuters) – Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East on Wednesday condemned the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an incendiary move in a volatile region and Palestinians said Washington was abandoning its leading role as a peace mediator.

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greets delegates after addressing the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Egypt, which forged the first Arab peace deal with Israel in 1979, brushed off Trump’s decision and said it did not change Jerusalem’s disputed legal status.

Jordan said Trump’s action was “legally null” because it consolidated Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Trump’s Jerusalem decision was dangerous and threatened the credibility of the United States as a broker of Middle East peace. He said the move would put back the peace process by decades and threatened regional stability and perhaps global stability.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said Trump’s undertaking was a “death sentence for all who seek peace” and called it “a dangerous escalation”.

Turkey said Trump’s move was “irresponsible”.

“We call upon the U.S. Administration to reconsider this faulty decision which may result in highly negative outcomes and to avoid uncalculated steps that will harm the multicultural identity and historical status of Jerusalem,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

A few hundred protesters gathered outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, a Reuters cameraman at the scene said. The protest was largely peaceful, though some of the demonstrators threw coins and other objects at the consulate.

Iran “seriously condemns” Trump’s move as it violates U.N. resolutions on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, state media reported. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said earlier in the day that the United States was trying to destabilise the region and start a war to protect Israel’s security.

British Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed with Trump’s embrace of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before a final-status agreement as this was unlikely to help nurture peace in the region, her spokesman said.

However, May’s spokesman welcomed Trump’s stated wish to end the conflict and his acknowledgement that the final status of Jerusalem, including boundaries within the city, must be subject to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not support Trump’s “unilateral” move.

“The status of Jerusalem is a question of international security that concerns the entire international community. The status of Jerusalem must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in the framework of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations,” Macron told reporters in Algiers.

“France and Europe are attached to a two-state solution – Israel and Palestine – leaving side by side in peace and security within recognised international borders with Jerusalem the capital of both states,” he said.

“For now, I urge for calm and for everyone to be responsible. We must avoid at all costs avoid violence and foster dialogue,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was no alternative to a two-state solution and Jerusalem was a final-status matter only to be settled through direct talks.

“I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said. “I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations.”

Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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