Pope criticizes Trump's decision to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem

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Pope Francis called for the "respect" of the status quo of Jerusalem and for "wisdom and prudence" to prevail Wednesday, hours before President Trump announced a decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Francis spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, after President Donald Trump told Abbas of his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims", he said, adding that it was home to sites deemed holy by followers of the three major monotheistic faiths.

Pope Francis says he can not remain silent about a White House plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"I make a heartfelt appeal so that all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations", he said.

He appealed "that eveyrone respects the status quo of the city", according to United Nations resolutions.

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In response to Trump's announcement, patriarchs and heads of all churches in Jerusalem urged Trump to reconsider his decision to relocate the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reiterating deep concerns of potentially escalating conflicts in a region sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

"The US president and his regional allies will bear responsibility for this decision's risky consequences", the official said.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had made the same promises during their campaigns, but once in office, they did not carry through with the move, citing its potential negative impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The Argentine pontiff called for "wisdom and prudence to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world panorama that is already unharmonious and marked by many cruel conflicts".

Saudi Arabia's King Salman warned his close ally that moving the USA embassy was a "dangerous step" that could rile Muslims around the world.

The Pope made comments to a group of visiting Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.

In his remarks, Pope Francis said the Holy Land was the "land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind".

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