Pope urges dialogue amid Jerusalem controversy

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He said he was directing the USA state department to begin preparations to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"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.

President Trump will reportedly announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will initiate a process to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

One US official said: "US policy is going to be honest about a reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel".

Pope Francis called the status quo of Jerusalem to be respected and "wisdom and prudence" to prevail to avoid further conflict on December 6, ahead of an announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, as global concern mounted.

"Jerusalem is a unique city", he said, "sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace".

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Pope Francis stressed the importance of dialogue and "recognizing the rights of all people" in the Holy Land in an address to Palestinians.

Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned the move is a threat to the Middle East peace process. The Vatican said the call with Francis was made at Abbas' initiative.

The internationally unsettled status of Jerusalem and its central importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians explains why, while recognizing the state of Israel, no nation has its embassy in the holy city.

"Dialogue is the source of greater mutual knowledge, greater mutual esteem and cooperation in the pursuit of the common good, and generous cooperation in ensuring that those in need receive all necessary assistance", Pope Francis said.

The Pope made his comments on Wednesday during a previously scheduled meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders.

Francis said he hopes that "wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many and cruel conflicts".