From Far East to Vatican, leaders sound alarm over US Jerusalem recognition
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China: 'Be cautious in words and deeds'

From Far East to Vatican, leaders sound alarm over US Jerusalem recognition

Iranian ayatollah says expected announcement indicates 'despair,' vows 'Palestine will be free'; pope says he cannot hold back 'deep concern' over the issue

In this Wednesday, May 20, 2015 file picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei listens to IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari during a graduation ceremony of officers in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)
In this Wednesday, May 20, 2015 file picture released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei listens to IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari during a graduation ceremony of officers in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)

US President Donald Trump’s expected Wednesday announcement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could lead to an “escalation” of tensions in the region, as well as “turmoil, chaos and clashes,” according to governments and diplomats around the world.

Muslim governments in the Middle East were loudest in excoriating the expected move.

Iran’s top leader called it an expression of “despair,” and vowed that the “Palestinian nation will achieve victory” over the “Zionist regime.”

“It is out of despair & debility that they want to declare #AlQuds as capital of the Zionist regime. On issue of #Palestine their hands are tied & they can’t achieve their goals. Victory belongs to Islamic Ummah. Palestine will be free, Palestinian nation will achieve victory,” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a tweet.

He added, “Today, the enemies and others have lined up against the Islamic Ummah and the Prophet of Islam’s path: US, global arrogance, Zionist regime, as well as reactionaries and hedonistic figures among the Islamic Ummah.”

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he gives a speech at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a summit of the main pan-Islamic body in Istanbul on December 13 to discuss the expected US move, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

“In the face of developments that arouse sensitivity over the status of Jerusalem, Mr President is calling a leaders’ summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in order to display joint action among Islamic countries,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara, giving the date for the meeting as December 13. Turkey currently holds the chairmanship of the OIC.

Turkey’s government, which has already warned it could sever ties with Israel over the move, warned earlier that the announcement would trigger “fire” and “chaos” in the region.

It will “throw the region and the world into a fire and it’s not known when it will end,” Turkey’s deputy prime minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdag wrote on Twitter. The move would be a “great disaster” leading to “turmoil, chaos and clashes,” he added.

A diplomatic official in the Syrian government warned, “This is a dangerous initiative by the US administration that clearly exemplifies the United States’ contempt for international law,” according to the official SANA news agency.

Responses were not limited to the Middle East.

Pope Francis arrives in Yangon, Myanmar, on November 27, 2017, for the first stage of a week-long visit that will also take him to neighboring Bangladesh. (L’Osservatore Romano via AP)

In his weekly address, Pope Francis said he “cannot silence my deep concern” over the issue. “Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims,” and holds a “special vocation for peace.”

He added: “I pray to God that this identity is preserved and reinforced, for the sake of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail.”

Maintaining the status quo was important “in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry also expressed worry. Spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a news briefing Wednesday: “We are concerned about the possible escalation of tensions. All relevant parties should bear regional peace and tranquility in mind, be cautious in words and deeds, avoid impacting the foundation for the settlement of the issue of Palestine, and avoid causing new confrontation in the region.”

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the “the situation is not easy.” He said Putin discussed the issue with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas late on Tuesday and expressed his concern about “a possible deterioration.” Peskov said, however, that the Kremlin would refrain from commenting on a decision that had not been announced yet.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, left, sits with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as she holds the first Cabinet meeting of her new team at 10 Downing Street in London on June 12, 2017 (AFP Photo/Pool/Leon Neal)

At a NATO meeting in Brussels Wednesday, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said, “We view the reports that we have heard with concern, because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a negotiated settlement.”

Johnson’s comments came a day after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned against “any action” that would undermine any possible peace process.

The UN’s envoy to the peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, insisted on Wednesday that Jerusalem’s future status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, and warned of the repercussions of any action over the disputed city.

“The (UN) secretary general has spoken many times on this issue… and he has said that we all have to be very careful with the actions we take because of the repercussions of these actions,” he said at a conference organized by The Jerusalem Post in the capital. “The future of Jerusalem is something that needs to be negotiated with Israel, with the Palestinians, sitting side by side directly in negotiations.”

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