Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 notice that he will be moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Holy See has expressed its concern for recent violent outbreaks and urged leaders to promote peace and security.
A Vatican communique Dec. 10 pointed to concerns for peace and security in Jerusalem and reiterated its belief that “only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can bring a stable and lasting peace,” as well as “guarantee the peaceful co-existence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”
The brief statement was published just days after the news broke that President Trump would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a widely controversial decision that has provoked a mixed reaction from the international community.
The Vatican said it is watching the development of the situation closely, especially in Jerusalem, which is a “Sacred city for Christians, Jews and Muslims from all over the world.”
The statement also reiterated the Holy See’s position on the importance of maintaining the status quo in Jerusalem, as per the repeated requests of the international community, and the hierarchies of the Catholic and Christian communities of the Holy Land.
Renewing an appeal made by Pope Francis during his general audience on Dec. 6, the statement reiterated the Pope's “fervent prayers” for national leaders, that they be committed to promoting peace, justice and security and averting “a new spiral of violence” in the nation.
Israel has traditionally always recognized Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the U.S. is the first country to do so since the state was established in 1948.
Debate on the issue is in many ways the crux of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is backed by Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia, and the wider Islamic world.
According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is to be discussed in the late stages of peace talks. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community, and all countries with diplomatic relations have their embassies in Tel Aviv.
More than 30 Palestinians have been injured in clashes across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip amid protests against Trump’s decision.
The position of the U.N. on the Jerusalem issue is that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, and that the city should eventually become the capital of the two states of Israel and Palestine.
The Vatican has long supported a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and on a diplomatic level recognizes and refers to both “the State of Israel” and “the State of Palestine.”