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Trump asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem al-Quds move: Document

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Donald Trump (left) with Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)

American President Donald Trump has called on Israel to restrain its response to his announcement of the US recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the Tel Aviv regime’s capital, fearing backlash from the international community, according to a State Department document.

“While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response,” the document dated December 6 said in an advisory note for diplomats at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to convey to the Israeli regime, according to Reuters.

“We expect there to be resistance to this news in the Middle East and around the world. We are still judging the impact this decision will have on US facilities and personnel overseas,” the document said.

In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, Trump officially declared Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, saying his administration would also begin a process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, which is expected to take years.

"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said. "While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering."

The US leader also said that Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Middle East in the coming days “to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism.”

The announcement was a major shift by Washington that overturns decades of US foreign policy. Trump's decision was mostly aimed at pleasing his main supporters - Republican conservatives and evangelical Christian Zionists who comprise an important share of his voter base.

Following the announcement, protests against the United States broke out across the Muslim world, and even Washington’s allies like Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were forced to condemn the controversial move.

Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital has also drawn condemnation from other global leaders and prominent politicians across the world.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned about the dire ramifications of Trump’s move for the Middle East’s security and stability, saying it “has the potential to send us backward to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.”

The EU, she said, “has a clear and united position: we believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two States, and with Jerusalem [al-Quds] as the capital of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini give a joint press conference at the European Union Council building in Brussels on December 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP) 

French President Emmanuel Macron said he disapproves of the Trump administration's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, calling it a “unilateral decision.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May called the US move unhelpful. "We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem [al-Quds] and recognize Jerusalem [al-Quds] as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement," May said in a statement.

The Russian foreign ministry expressed "serious concern" over Trump's decision, saying it threatens security in the Middle East.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Canberra will not relocate its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also stressed that Canada's embassy in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv.

Another State Department document, which was also dated December 6, said an internal task force was formed by the government “to track worldwide developments” following Trump’s announcement

In its message for the European capitals, the document requested European officials to argue that the US decision did not prejudge so-called “final status” issues that Israel and the Palestinians should resolve in any peace agreement.

“You are in a key position to influence international reaction to this announcement and we are asking you to amplify the reality that Jerusalem [al-Quds] is still a final status issue between Israelis and Palestinians and that the parties must resolve the dimensions of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem [al-Quds] during their negotiations,” it said.

A general view of Jerusalem shows the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem al-Quds's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount on December 6, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

East Jerusalem al-Quds was occupied in 1967 and Israel later annexed it despite international condemnations. The occupied city's final status is one of the thorniest issues in the stalemated talks between the Palestinian Authority and Tel Aviv.

Claiming all of al-Quds as its "eternal and indivisible" capital, Israel annexed the eastern part, where a number of sites sacred to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, are located, following the 1967 Six-Day War.

The annexation is in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and has never been recognized by the international community.

Trump in his Wednesday’s announcement said he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, but also signed a six-month waiver delaying the move.

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