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UN asks Trump to tread with caution on Jerusalem; China critical of move

Trump will also direct the State Department to initiate the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Agencies  |  Jerusalem 

A view of Jerusalem's old city is seen Tuesday. Photo: PTI/AP

The for the peace process said on Wednesday that Jerusalem's future status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians and warned of the repercussions of any action over the disputed city.

"The (UN) secretary general has spoken many times on this issue... and he has said that we all have to be very careful with the actions we take because of the repercussions of these actions," Nickolay Mladenov told a conference ahead of US President Donald Trump's plan to recognise as Israel's capital.

"The future of is something that needs to be negotiated with Israel, with the Palestinians, sitting side by side directly in negotiations.

warned that US President Donald Trump's plan to recognise as Israel's capital could fuel tensions in the region.

"We are concerned about the possible escalation of tensions," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing.

"All relevant parties should bear regional peace and tranquility in mind, be cautious in words and deeds, avoid impacting the foundation for the settlement of the issue of Palestine, and avoid causing new confrontation in the region."

"The President would say that the US government recognises that is the capital of He views this as recognition of historic reality," a senior administration official told reporters.

"has been the capital of Jewish people since ancient times and the modern reality that it has been the seat of government, important ministries, its legislature, the Supreme court," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In taking this action, will fulfil a major campaign promise that has been made by a number of previous presidential candidates, another senior official said.

In his remarks, will also direct the State Department to initiate the process of moving the from Tel Aviv to

Noting that finding appropriate land and construction of a new embassy would take at least a couple of years, officials said would continue to give waiver as required by the Congress - for not moving its diplomatic mission to

Trump's action enjoys broad bipartisan support in the Congress, the official said.

The move, which is being opposed by the countries in the Middle East, is unlikely to have an impact on the two- state solution to the conflict, the official said.

"remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, and is optimistic that peace can be achieved," the official said, adding that not recognising as the capital of has done nothing to achieve peace for more than two decades.

Trump recognises that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty are subject to final status negotiations, the official said.

has decided to go ahead with his plan, ignoring dire warnings from Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, one of his closest allies in the

Terming it a "dangerous step", Salman cautioned the move will "provoke the feelings of Muslims around the world".

Sisi warned that the move will complicate the situation and "jeopardise the chances of peace in the Middle East".

The community considers east illegally occupied by and most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Responding to questions, senior administration officials said the President believed that the move would have no impact on the peace process and the deal is within reach and can be achieved.

Earlier, spoke over phone with a number of leaders in the to share his decision on Jerusalem, the White House said.

spoke separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Sisi and King Salman.

"This announcement does not change US policy over these specific borders," the senior administration official said, while another official asserted that the President is not taking a decision that affects any of the boundaries and sovereignty.

Trump's anticipated announcement received mixed message from lawmakers.

Senator Ted Cruz described this as a "historical" announcement.

"I strongly encourage and would unequivocally support President formally recognising as Israel's capital and beginning the important process of moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders said he was extremely concerned over Trump's plan.

"There's a reason why all past US administrations have avoided making this move, and why leaders from all over the world, including a group of former Israeli ambassadors, have warned against doing it. It would dramatically undermine the prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and severely, perhaps irreparably, damage the US' ability to broker that peace," Sanders said.

"What the US should be doing now is bringing adversaries in the together to seek common solutions, not exacerbating tensions in this highly volatile region," he said.

Meanwhile, the State Department warned US embassies around the world to prepare for possible protests and violence and banned travel by government employees and their families to Jerusalem's Old City and the West Bank.

First Published: Wed, December 06 2017. 15:02 IST