The Latest: Britain urges US to quickly present Mideast plan

JERUSALEM (AP) – The Latest on President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday (all times local):

12:25 p.m.

Britain’s top diplomat is calling on the U.S. administration to present a Mideast peace plan quickly following President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels.

He said, speaking alongside Tillerson, that the U.K. will have to “wait and see” what Trump says in his speech later on Wednesday.

But Johnson says the decision clearly “makes it more important than ever that the long-awaited American proposals on the Middle East peace process are now brought forward.”

He says that should happen “as a matter of priority.”

Tillerson did not comment on the president’s decision but says it hasn’t been a major topic with fellow diplomats during his meetings this week at NATO headquarters.

___

12:15 p.m.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned President Donald Trump’s imminent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The state TV’s website quotes Khamenei as saying that “when they (U.S.) claim that they want to declare Jerusalem as the capital of occupied Palestine, it shows their inability. ”

He also added that he is convinced “the victory will ultimately be for the Islamic nation and Palestine” and that “the Palestinian people will be victorious” in their struggle.

Iran does not recognize Israel, and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.

___

12:05 p.m.

China has expressed concerns over “possible aggravation of regional tensions” in response to the expected U.S. announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday the China would monitor developments on the issue.

He says the “issue of Jerusalem’s status is complicated and sensitive” and that “all sides should focus on regional peace and tranquility, act with caution, and avoid sabotaging the foundation for the settlement of Palestinian issues and triggering new confrontation in the region.”

China has provided the Palestinians with financial and technical aid. It also has built stronger ties with Israel, providing a large market for Israeli technology.

China says it views both Israel and the Palestinians as “important partners” in its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a mammoth Chinese-funded push to develop transport routes including ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

___

11:55 a.m.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry says President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to recognize of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “dangerous step” that will fuel global conflict.

The ministry in Damascus issued a statement on Wednesday calling Trump’s imminent move the “culmination of the crime of the seizing of Palestine and the displacement of the Palestinian people.”

It also urged Arab states to stop normalizing relations with Israel.

Israel has mainly stayed out of the conflict in Syria, though it has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.

___

11:50 a.m.

Two leading Lebanese newspapers have issued front page rebukes to President Donald Trump over his expected announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The An-Nahar compares the U.S. president to the late British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who a hundred years ago famously promised Palestine as a national home to the Jewish People, in what is known as the Balfour declaration.

The paper’s Wednesday headline reads: “Trump, Balfour of the century, gifts Jerusalem to Israel.”

The English-language Daily Star newspaper has published a full-page photo of Old City of Jerusalem capped by the Dome of the Rock beneath the headline: “No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of PALESTINE.”

___

11:35 a.m.

Pope Francis is calling for the status quo of Jerusalem to be respected and for “wisdom and prudence” to prevail to avoid further conflict.

Francis made the appeal during his weekly Wednesday audience, ahead of the expected U.S. announcement by President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Francis said he was “profoundly concerned” about recent developments, and declared Jerusalem a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a “special vocation for peace.”

He appealed “that everyone respects the status quo of the city” according to U.N. resolutions.

He says: “I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.”

___

11:30 a.m.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the “whole world is against” President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and eventually move the U.S. Embassy there.

Cavusoglu’s remarks came just before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.

He says that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a “grave mistake.”

Cavusoglu says such a move would “not bring any stability, peace but rather chaos and instability.”

The Turkish diplomat says the whole world is reacting, not just the Muslim world. He says he’s raised the issue with Tillerson in the past and plans to do so again.

___

11:20 a.m.

Pope Francis has called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land and expressed his hope for “peace and prosperity” for the Palestinian people, ahead of the expected announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Francis made the comments on Wednesday during a previously scheduled meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders. The Vatican says it was coincidental that the audience fell on the same day as the U.S. announcement.

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

He said: “The primary condition of that dialogue is reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be.”

___

11:10 a.m.

Israel’s justice minister says she welcomes Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem and encourages him to “move the embassy de facto” to Jerusalem.

Ayelet Shaked told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday that Trump has to go beyond the paperwork stage and not be intimidated by Arab threats of violence.

Shaked says: “I wouldn’t be worried about this event or the other. If Arab leaders take steps to prevent unrest, there won’t be any unrest.”

She spoke ahead of a speech at the conference by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Trump is slated to make an announcement about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which has garnered widespread condemnation from the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, later on Wednesday.

___

10:35 a.m.

Britain’s foreign secretary is expressing concern about reports that U.S. President Donald Trump might recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Boris Johnson says: “Let’s wait and see what the president says exactly, but we view the reports that we’ve heard with concern.”

He told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday that Britain thinks “Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians – a negotiated settlement that we want to see.”

Johnson added: “We have no plans ourselves to move our embassy.”

___

10:30 a.m.

Pope Francis has spoken with the Palestinian leader about the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and is meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and academic leaders.

Vatican officials say Wednesday’s meeting was organized well in advance by the Vatican’s interreligious dialogue office, and that it was purely coincidental that it fell on the same day as the U.S. announcement, expected in the early afternoon in Washington.

The Vatican says Francis spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after President Donald Trump called Abbas to advise him of his decision. The call came at Abbas’ initiative.

The Vatican has long sought an internationally guaranteed status for Jerusalem that safeguards its sacred character for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

___

9:40 a.m.

Turkey’s prime minister says President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will make the region’s problems “unresolvable.”

U.S. officials have told The Associated Press the announcement would come on Wednesday and would include instructions for the State Department to begin moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke about the possibility at a news conference with South Korean officials in Seoul.

Yildirim said it was vital for the Middle Eastern region and for global peace that Trump not make such an announcement.

Jerusalem is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims and is a contentious part of Israel-Palestinian negotiations.

The prime minister said a declaration could cause religious clashes and destroy efforts toward formation of a Palestinian state.

___

9:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.

U.S. officials say Trump will also instruct the State Department on Wednesday to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalized first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least 3 or 4 years, presuming there is no future change in U.S. policy.

The U.S. officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to publicly preview Trump’s announcement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s