Trump plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital triggers warnings

U.S. allies and foes alike expressed dismay Wednesday over President Donald Trump's expected move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital with some warning it could potentially trigger violence.

The decision will "provoke Muslims and Christians alike," Jordan's King Abdullah predicted, while Pope Francis urged the White House to reconsider.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital would be an act of "madness" that would "plunge the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

Trump is expected to make the announcement in a speech later Wednesday, while delaying moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv. Officials told reporters that the president intends to fulfill his promise to relocate the diplomatic outpost but the process could take years.

Recognizing Jerusalem would upend decades of American policy. The United States has never endorsed Israel's claim of sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem.

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President Donald Trump visits Israel
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and his wife Sara await U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), his wife Sara (2nd L) and David Friedman (3rd L), the new United States Ambassador to Israel, await U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of honor guard in formation wait to begin the welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's departure from Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of honor guard in formation wait to begin the welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's departure from Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) welcomes US President Donald Trump (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) as they take part in a welcome ceremony upon their arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, during part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) welcomes US President Donald Trump (C) during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) upon his arrival aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) and first lady Melania Trump (3rd L) walk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd R), his wife Sara (R) and David Friedman (Center back), the new United States Ambassador to Israel, upon their arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and US President Donald Trump speak upon the latter's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) sits next to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israel'sPresident Reuven Rivlin during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) shakes hands with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ( R) claps hands during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) gives a speech during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2017, as part of his first trip overseas. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (seated, L) chats wife Sara Netanyahu (seated, front) as U.S. President Donald Trump (C) chats to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (6th R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (5th R) upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. first lady Melania Trump attends a welcoming ceremony upon her arrival together with U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Members of the Israeli security forces patrol the area near the King David Hotel where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to stay during his visit, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Avishag Shar-Yashuv
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk on a pavement as members of the media and Israeli security forces work nearby, in the area near the King David Hotel where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to stay during his visit, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Avishag Shar-Yashuv
Security guards patrol near Israeli and American flags as they wait for the expected arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndL) looks at his wife Melania signing a guest book as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (3rd L) and his wife Nechama (R) stand nearby at Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) shakes hands, after signing the guest book, with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) with his wife Nechama Reuven (R) and first lady Melania Trump (L), in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) sits next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during their meeting in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Israeli President Reuben Rivlin (L) gestures as he sits next to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting at Rivlin� residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd L) signs the guest book, with first lady Melania Trump (L), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) his wife Nechama Reuven (R) in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Noam Moskowitz
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during his meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at Rivlin?s residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Atef Safadi/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a few remarks to reporters before his meeting with Israel� President Reuven Rivlin at Rivlin� residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ( L) stands on a podium next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump ( L) stands on a podium next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump listens to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (C) during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. On the left, Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) stands next to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz at the plaza in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump (L), the daughter of US President Donald Trump, is seen during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, is seen during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) tour the garden of the residency of Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) stands next to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz at the plaza in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin (R) to review troops during a welcome ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk in a procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extends his hand to shake hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a joint news conference at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
A still image taken from video shows U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attending a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. Government Press Office via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev presents U.S. President Donald Trump with a token of remembrance, an exact replica of the original Holocaust-era personal album that belonged to Ester Goldstein, who perished in the Holocaust, at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania lay a wreath during a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump holds the hand of Holocaust survivor Margot Goldstein, as first lady Melania Trump walks towards them, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a wreath-laying at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania wave as they board Air Force One to travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/
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Since the 1979 Camp David Accords, American presidents have refused to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or move the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. approach has been that Jerusalem's status should be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestinians seek the city's eastern sector, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as the capital of a future independent state. They fear that Trump's declaration essentially imposes on them a disastrous solution for one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"There is no way that there can be talks with the Americans. The peace process is finished. They have already pre-empted the outcome," Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told the Associated Press. "They cannot take us for granted."

Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism. But it's also home to Islam's third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites, and forms the combustible center of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Any perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered volatile protests in the past, both in the Holy Land and across the Muslim world.

One U.S. official said Tuesday that America's "policy of ambiguity" in regard to Jerusalem hasn't worked. "It seems clear now that the physical location of the American embassy is not material to a peace deal ... it's not an impediment to peace and it's not a facilitator to peace," the official said.

Jerusalem is already home to Israel's parliament, Supreme Court and other government sites.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Trump in a phone call of "dangerous consequences" for peace efforts and regional stability, spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said.

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, said relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem "breaks red lines" and recognizing the city as Israel's capital would be "igniting the spark of rage against the occupation."

Hamas also declared three "days of national anger" starting Wednesday, and called for protest rallies and sit-ins outside U.S. embassies and consulates in the region.

Pope Francis expressed "profound concern" at Trump's move and that he prayed "wisdom and caution will prevail so as to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world ... already convoluted and marred by many cruel conflicts."

In unscripted remarks after his weekly general audience at the Vatican, he said Jerusalem was "a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims," and urged that "everyone respect the city's status quo in respect to the pertinent resolutions by the United Nations."

Germany issued a warning to citizens traveling in the region about protests, saying "violent clashes cannot be ruled out," while its Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described Trump's plan as "counterproductive."

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also expressed concern about the U.S. decision.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi urged Trump in a phone call against "taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East," his spokesman said.

However, Israel's justice minister urged Trump to not be intimidated by Arab threats of violence.

"I wouldn't be worried about this event or the other," Ayelet Shaked told the Associated Press. "If Arab leaders take steps to prevent unrest, there won't be any unrest."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a short video on Facebook welcoming recognition of his country's "historical and national identity."

Much of Jerusalem is an open city where Jews and Palestinians can move about freely, though a separation barrier built by Israel more than a decade ago slices through several Arab neighborhoods and requires tens of thousands of Palestinians to pass through crowded checkpoints to reach the center of the city.

Interaction between the sides is minimal and there are large disparities between wealthier Jewish neighborhoods and impoverished Palestinian ones. In addition, most of the city's more than 300,000 Palestinians do not hold Israeli citizenship and instead are "residents."

Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could be viewed as America discarding its longstanding neutrality and siding with Israel at a time when the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been trying to midwife a new peace process into existence. Trump, too, has spoken of his desire for a "deal of the century" that would end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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