Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East have condemned the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an incendiary move and Palestinians said Washington was abandoning its leading role as a peace mediator.
The European Union and United Nations also voiced alarm at US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to debate President Trump’s decision.
Eight of the council’s 15 members called for the meeting.
Major US allies came out against Mr Trump’s reversal of decades of US and broad international policy on Jerusalem.
France rejected the “unilateral” decision while appealing for calm in the region.
Britain said the move would not help peace efforts and Jerusalem should ultimately be shared by Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Germany said Jerusalem’s status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution.
Israel, by contrast, applauded Mr Trump’s move.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a pre-recorded video message that it was “an important step towards peace” and it was “our goal from Israel’s first day”.
He added that any peace accord with the Palestinians would have to include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and he urged other countries to follow Mr Trump’s example.
Mr Trump upended decades of US policy in defiance of warnings from around the world that the gesture risks aggravating conflict in the Middle East.
The status of Jerusalem is home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths.
Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.
Israel deems Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital dating to antiquity, and its status is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.
US President Donald Trump has reversed decades of US policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – Read more: https://t.co/a9ovn3BVW3 pic.twitter.com/J2xySKffOr
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 6, 2017
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a pre-recorded speech, said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine” and that Mr Trump’s move was “tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator.”
The last round of US-brokered talks foundered in 2014 over issues including Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and Israeli accusations of Palestinian incitement to violence and refusal to recognise it as a Jewish state.
Hamas, the Palestinian group that has run Gaza since 2007, said Trump had committed a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people”.
Hamas urged Arabs and Muslims to “undermine US interests in the region” and to “shun Israel”.
Palestinians switched off Christmas lights Bethlehem and in Ramallah.
All Palestinian factions called for a general strike and protest rallies today.
British Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed with Mr 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, Mrs 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,” Mr Macron told reporters in Algiers.
UN 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,” Mr Guterres said.
“I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations.”