Pope Francis called for the “respect” of the status quo of Jerusalem and for “wisdom and prudence” to prevail Wednesday, hours before President Trump announced a decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
“My thoughts go to Jerusalem and I cannot keep silent my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the past days," the pontiff said during the weekly General Audience at the Vatican.
“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 added.
Pope Francis said Jerusalem, a holy place for Jews, Christians and Muslims, has a special vocation for peace.
A number of world leaders have warned against moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
A closer look at Jerusalem
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said it would mark the end of years of peace efforts and have "dangerous consequences" for the "security and stability of the region and of the world."
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Jerusalem "should ultimately form a shared capital between the Israeli and Palestinian states."
“The status of Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians," she said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the news. In a Facebook video, Netanyahu said that Israel's "historical and national identity is receiving important expressions every day, but especially today.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the move would help strengthen his country.
West Jerusalem is where Israel's government is based, but Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. For that reason, every U.S. president since Israel's founding in 1948 has located the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
U.N. resolutions over the years include condemning the Israeli occupation of "Occupied Palestinian Territory" in areas including East Jerusalem and "unlawful construction" by Israel there.
Contributing: Oren Dorell and Kim Hjelmgaard