Updated: 06/12/17 : 13:28:46
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World :: Pope and Trump to clash over US Embassy move to Jerusalem

Pope Francis has set himself on a new collision course with Donald Trump over the President's plans to move the US embassy in Israel.

The pontiff has called for the "status quo" to be respected, after Mr Trump indicated the embassy would be relocated from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem.

Expressing "deep concern" over the proposals, the Pope appealed "for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions".

The President is expected to instruct the state department to begin what is expected to be a years-long process of moving the embassy, in a speech on Wednesday afternoon.

While Israel welcomed the news, Palestinian officials have declared the Middle East peace process "finished".

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city's status is marked as a final issue to be decided in a peace agreement.

It is regarded as the centre of the Jewish religion, where the biblical King David built a city around the ancient and holy Temple Mount.

Many Israelis, and the country's current government, regard the city as an eternal and undivided capital.

The state has controlled west Jerusalem since 1948, but after the 1967 war annexed the east of the city and occupied the West Bank, staking a claim beyond internationally defined borders.

East Jerusalem is predominantly Palestinian, home to Islam's third holiest site, the Haram el Sharif, as well as sacred Christian churches and more than 300,000 Palestinians, who make up nearly 40% of Jerusalem's population.

Palestinians want to retain control over part of the city in a final agreement, and accuse Israeli authorities of changing the reality on the ground by building settlements in the east of the city and making life difficult for its Arab population.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity before the expected announcement, said the decision was an acknowledgement of the "historic and current" reality in the region rather than a political statement.