DONALD TRUMP was last night accused of declaring war on the world’s Muslims and destroying any hope of peace in the Middle East after he announced the US now recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Despite warnings it would spark violence, the US president said he had told officials to carry out his election pledge to move the American embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
He said accepting that Jerusalem was the capital marked the ‘beginning of a new approach’ to the ‘pursuit of peace’ between the Israelis and Palestinians.
‘This is nothing more or less than recognising reality. It is also the right thing to do. Something that has to be done,’ he added.
Mr Trump’s announcement reverses 70 years of US policy, although the senate has previously supported such a move.
The televised comments immediately inflamed tensions over the disputed city, home to one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to protest as critics said Mr Trump risked wrecking the ‘two state’ proposed peace solution.
Manuel Hassassian, chief Palestinian representative to Britain, said the announcement was a ‘kiss of death’ for the peace process.
‘He is declaring war in the Middle East, declaring war against 1.5billion Muslims and hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel,’ he told the BBC.
Others expressing concern about Mr Trump’s decision included Pope Francis, the EU, China, Russia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
In the UK, both prime minister Theresa May and foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticised the move.
Mrs May told MPs in the Commons she would be speaking to the president about it, adding: ‘The status of Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.’
Labour’s Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, called it a ‘breathtakingly-dangerous decision’.
But Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu hailed a ‘historic day’ and an ‘important step towards peace’.