Palestinian figureheads and other world leaders have accused the US President of inciting more violence in the region with his announcement.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on December 7, 2017

Donald Trump has upended seven decades of US policy by formally announcing that the US will recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.

The President has also declared he plans to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” Mr Trump said from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room.

“After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.”

The decision has been hailed as an “important step towards peace” by Israel’s president Benjamin Netanyahu, but other world leaders have been scathing because of its likelihood to inflame tensions in the Middle-East.

Jerusalem has long been considered the “eternal” capital by Israelis, however the Palestinians have designs on making East Jerusalem the capital of their independent state.

International bodies from the Vatican to the UN have weighed in to share their concerns.

UN Sectary-General Antonio Guterres said: “I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”

“I understand the deep attachment that Jerusalem holds in the hearts of so many people. It has been so for centuries and it will always be.

“In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B.”

In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Mr Trump’s announcement as “regrettable”, and a spokesperson for British PM Theresa May said it was “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region”.

Even Pope Francis added: “I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.”

Reaction from Palestine

Palestine’s leader Mahmoud Abbas said the US could no longer be a mediator in the Israel-Palestine peace negotiations.

“The decision by President Trump will not change the reality of the city of Jerusalem and will not give any legitimacy to the Israelis on this issue,” he said.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Al Jazeera that not only would the US be disqualified from playing a role in negotiations, it has effectively “destroyed any possibility of peace”.

“He’s pushing this region towards chaos [and] violence,” he added.

Hamas — Palestine’s Islamic militant group in control of Gaza — said Trump’s announcement “opens the gates of hell”.

“Trump’s decision on Jerusalem will not succeed in changing the fact that Jerusalem is an Arab Muslim land,” the spokesperson said.