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US asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem move

07 Diciembre 2017
US asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem move

All eyes are on Jerusalem, which US President Donald Trump has officially recognised as Israel's capital despite warnings not to do so from within and beyond the Arab world.

In Australia, curious tourists are often shocked to find Sydney is not actually the capital city, and usually told the inland city of Canberra was built as the "bush capital" as a compromise somewhere between Australia's largest city and its competitor to the south, Melbourne.

Meanwhile, the American Consulate General in Jerusalem tweeted a message on Wednesday banning government officials and their employees from all personal travel to Jerusalem's Old City and the West Bank until further notice.

He cited several: the Western Wall that surrounded the Jews' ancient Temple, the Stations of the Cross that depict Jesus along his crucifixion path, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque where Muslims say their Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

The status of Jerusalem - home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions - is one of the thorniest obstacles to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Critics say Trump's approach could extinguish his own efforts to broker Middle East peace while igniting the flames of conflict in a region already reeling from crises in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Qatar.

"The recognition by the U.S. and other countries will make clear to Palestinians that they must accept the existence of Israel and must conduct real negotiations of peace with Israel", said Intelligence Minister Israel Katz.

Chief of Staff John Kelly and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley also recommended that Trump overturn U.S. policy and publicly acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the person said.

Netanyahu lauded Israel's expanding relations with the world as he spoke at a diplomatic conference in Jerusalem, describing a "tsunami of diplomatic, economic, security and technology ties".

But the decision to relocate the embassy is by far the most significant of Trump's policy changes on Israel and one that threatens to have widespread and immediate ramifications.

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli security officers during protests in Ramallah on Thursday

Likewise, Brazil moved its capital from coastal, crowded Rio de Janeiro to inland Brasilia in 1961 - the idea being to build a brand new capital "to bring progress to the interior of Brazil", as architect Oscar Niemeyer described it. He added that Trump was declaring war in the Middle East, against Muslims and Christians who would not accept Jerusalem under Israeli control.

One official also said Trump would insist that issues of sovereignty and borders must be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump made his announcement now largely because he faced another deadline to waive a 1995 law requiring the move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the two officials said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity pending Trump's announcement, said the decision was merely an acknowledgment of "historical and current reality" rather than a political statement and said the city's physical and political borders will not be compromised.

Russian aggression in Ukraine will be top of the agenda at Tillerson's next stop on his European tour at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday.

Trump's national security advisers met last month to settle on a recommendation on Jerusalem, a person familiar with the meeting said.

The Israeli government will be thrilled.

Jordanian citizens protested the decision on Wednesday, chanting Anti-American slogans, calling the authorities to abolish peace treaties with Israel. Germany said Jerusalem's status could be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution. In the traditionally polite and calculated framework of transatlantic discourse, such dramatic language had been unheard of in the decades prior to Trump assuming office in January.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US move was a sign of its incompetence and failure, according to his personal website.