Pope Francis has set himself on a new collision course with Donald Trump
over the President's plans to move the US embassy in Israel.
pontiff has called for the "status quo" to be respected, after Mr Trump
indicated the embassy would be relocated from Tel Aviv to the contested
city of Jerusalem.
Expressing "deep concern" over the proposals,
the Pope appealed "for all to respect the city's status quo, in
accordance with the relevant UN resolutions".
The President is
expected to instruct the state department to begin what is expected to
be a years-long process of moving the embassy, in a speech on Wednesday
While Israel welcomed the news, Palestinian officials have declared the Middle East peace process "finished".
Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the
city's status is marked as a final issue to be decided in a peace
It is regarded as the centre of the Jewish religion,
where the biblical King David built a city around the ancient and holy
Many Israelis, and the country's current government, regard the city as an eternal and undivided capital.
state has controlled west Jerusalem since 1948, but after the 1967 war
annexed the east of the city and occupied the West Bank, staking a claim
beyond internationally defined borders.
East Jerusalem is
predominantly Palestinian, home to Islam's third holiest site, the Haram
el Sharif, as well as sacred Christian churches and more than 300,000
Palestinians, who make up nearly 40% of Jerusalem's population.
want to retain control over part of the city in a final agreement, and
accuse Israeli authorities of changing the reality on the ground by
building settlements in the east of the city and making life difficult
for its Arab population.
US officials, speaking on condition of
anonymity before the expected announcement, said the decision was an
acknowledgement of the "historic and current" reality in the region
rather than a political statement.