In rare rebuke, Saudis condemn ‘irresponsible’ Trump Jerusalem shift
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In rare rebuke, Saudis condemn ‘irresponsible’ Trump Jerusalem shift

US ally expresses concern, says it warned against the step boosting status of Israeli capital

US President Donald Trump (C-L) and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (C-R) arrive for the Arabic Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN
US President Donald Trump (C-L) and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (C-R) arrive for the Arabic Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN

Saudi Arabia’s royal court, led by King Salman and his powerful son, condemned the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Thursday statement was a rare public rebuke by the royal court of its American ally and US President Donald Trump.

Saudi Arabia, a regional powerhouse that could help the White House push through a Middle East settlement, said the kingdom had already warned against the step and “continues to express its deep regret at the US administration’s decision,” describing it “unjustified and irresponsible.”

In his Wednesday address, Trump delighted Israel and defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

Trump also said the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable for that.

US President Donald Trump delivers a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Trump’s move puts the Sunni nation in a bind. The kingdom, particularly its powerful crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, enjoys close relations with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

US embassies across much of the Middle East and parts of Africa have warned American citizens of possible protests as a result of Trump’s decision.

The announcement upturns decades of precedent and runs counter to international consensus, with no other country currently taking the same stance.

Jerusalem’s status is among the most difficult issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the traditional US position has been that it must be negotiated between the two sides.

While Israel has always considered Jerusalem its capital, with the prime minister’s office and parliament building located there, countries have avoided recognizing it as such to prevent damaging hopes for a two-state solution.

The Palestinians see the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.

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