In its major story on the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Vatican’s newspaper described the measure as igniting a powder keg in the region.
With its Dec. 6 frontpage headline “Trump Inflames the Middle East,” L’Osservatore Romano framed the question of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel in terms of the negative and perhaps violent responses the action will provoke.
The article alludes to an increased “risk of terrorism in the region” as well as “mounting fears of possible demonstrations of protest and unrest.” The announcement has given rise to “profound perplexity” even within the Trump administration, the Vatican daily alleges.
Furthermore, there is opposition to the decision on the part of the Department of State’s office for the Near East, the ambassadors of the region, and “even a part of the secret services,” the article declares.
In a personal appeal Wednesday, Pope Francis urged nations to respect for the “status quo” in Jerusalem, offering prayers “that wisdom and prudence prevail.”
“My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem,” the Pope said before the crowd of pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall for his weekly General Audience. “I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the last days.”
“At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone’s commitment to respect the city’s status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions,” he said.
On Wednesday, President Trump formally announced that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will initiate a process to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
“I have determined that it is time to official recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Mr. Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
The change is a recognition of “reality,” officials have declared, both the historic reality that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish nation since ancient times and the modern reality that the city is the seat of Israel’s government, housing its legislature, supreme court, prime minister, and executive agencies.