“We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division,” wrote the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Catholic, and other branches of Christianity that are represented in the city.
“Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm,” reads the letter, which insists that “the Holy City can be shared.”
The reaction echoes the “deep concern” expressed earlier on Wednesday by Pope Francis, who urged the White House to respect “the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.” The UN has not recognized Israel’s own view of Jerusalem as its capital, and considers the eastern majority-Palestinian part of the city to be under occupation.
Palestinian West Bank officials say the step, which will also involve moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, where all other diplomatic missions to Israel are located, could signal “the death knell of any peace process.” Hamas, which controls Gaza, has vowed a “Day of Rage” in response to the decision, to be announced in a speech on Wednesday afternoon.
While Israel has welcomed the decision, the move has not been endorsed by the EU or its individual states, Russia, or China.