Will WW3 break out over Donald Trump’s Israel Jerusalem decision?
The US President is due outline his intention to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during a speech in Washington later today.
The decision has prompted an outcry from a number of world leaders who fear a religious war could break out in the Middle East as a result.
There are mounting fears that violence could erupt because the holy city is at the very centre of the deepening Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
After hearing that Mr Trump could be on the brink of recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestine’s chief representative to Britain Manuel Hassassian accused him of “declaring war”.
“If he says what he is intending to say about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, it means a kiss of death to the two state solution,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
“He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims and hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel.”
But Mr Hassassian added that he was not referring to military conflict. He said: “I don’t mean war in terms of conventional war, I mean war in terms of diplomacy.”
Although the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is unlikely to spark a war, it could lead to an escalation of tensions in the Middle East.
American diplomat Richard Haass has warned that Mr Trump’s actions could increase tensions and pave the way to violence and in the Middle East.
He tweeted: “The risk of recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not that it will derail the peace process as there is no peace process with any real prospects.
“The risk is that it will increase tensions and lead to violence at a time where there is more than enough tension & violence in the world.”
He added: “True, holding off US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital did not result in peace. The lack of progress can be chalked up to Israeli & Palestinian behavior alike.
“But equally clear is that changing US policy toward Jerusalem now will likely make the situation much worse.”
The endorsement of Israel’s claim would reverse long-standing US policy that the its status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as capital of their future state.
The White House has justified the decision as a “recognition of reality” that Jerusalem has long been the seat of Israel’s government.
The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, which is sacred to Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Turkish Prime Minister Binary Yildirim warned that Mr Trump risks making the problems in the Middle East “unresolvable”.
Pope Francis has joined the chorus of voices pleading with Mr Trump to reconsider, arguing that it is vital to “recognise the rights of all people” and maintain the “status quo”.
Theresa May plans to speak with Mr Trump in an attempt to diffuse the increasingly tense situation, stressing that the UK position on Jerusalem has not changed.
She said: “The status of Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“Jerusalem should ultimately form a shared capital between the Israeli and Palestinian states.”
After the Six-Day war of 1967, Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital, though the claim was dismissed by Palestine and the wider international community.