Friday, 15 December, 2017

Pope Francis defends Jerusalem 'status quo'

Pope Francis talks during a special audience with nuns of Rome's diocese in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Pope Francis talks during a special audience with nuns of Rome's diocese in Paul VI hall at the Vatican
Kenny Thornton | 06 December, 2017, 20:07

Pope Francis said he was "profoundly concerned" and appealed for the status quo of Jerusalem to be respected and for "wisdom and prudence" to prevail.

He said he hoped "wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many and cruel conflicts".

US President Donald Trump will deliver his speech, expecting the US president to "recognize the reality" that Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel and to declare the move to the US diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv and which for decades remained a reason of contention between Israelis and Palestinians.

The decision could potentially dismantle 22 years of USA foreign policy in the Middle East and would likely enrage Muslims who view Jerusalem as the potential capital of the Palestinian state.

Palestinians, Arab and Muslim countries warn that a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would "unleash widespread public anger" and deal a death knee to the peace process.

"I can not silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days", the Pope said in his weekly address.

Terror plot to assassinate British PM foiled
Security measures were introduced in the 1970s but were increased in the 1980s as the threat from Irish republican groups grew. Four have been successful, including the May attack that killed 22 following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.

Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - now occupied by Israel - might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state. According to the BBC, the United States would be the first nation to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since the nation was founded in 1948.

Prior to his general audience, the Pope met with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders for a scheduled audience, urging dialogue that is respectful of everyone's rights in the Holy Land.

The leader of the Catholic Church said he "cannot keep silent" about the brewing conflict over Jerusalem's status.

"The Holy Land is for us Christians the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind", he said.

Most importantly the pope, who has recently been under scrutiny by some for not calling out the Rohingya by name during his trip and by others for not focusing enough on the persecution against Christians, stressed his commitment to fostering peace.

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