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Macron calls Trump over possible Jerusalem declaration

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Jerusalem is a central consideration in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday expressed concern about the possibility of Washington unilaterally designating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a phone call US leader Donald Trump


"The French president has expressed his concern at the possibility of the United States unilaterally designating Jerusalem as capital of the state of Israel," a statement said.

Any such decisions must be "within the framework of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, aimed in particular at the establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem as capital", it added.

A White House statement reported that Macron and Trump had discussed the Middle East and Iraq but did not mention the Jerusalem question.

The European Union on Tuesday warned of " serious repercussions on public opinion in large parts of the world" if Trump fulfils his election campaign pledge to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US embassy there.

And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the question is a "red line" for Muslim countries.

Trump wavering

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their capital and previous peace negotiations have broken down over whether or how to divide sovereignty over Jewish and Muslim holy sites.

Since 1995, the US president has been obliged to decide whether the embassy stays in Tel Aviv or moves to Jerusalem every six months.

Like his predecessors, Trump signed the derogation to stay in Tel Aviv the first time it came up during his term, saying that he wanted to give a planned peace agreement "a shot".

The deadline to review the decision fell on Monday but Trump did not take a decision, although White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said that it was "not a matter of if, but a matter of when".

Reports in the US media say Trump is considering making a speech that recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital without actually moving the US embassy there.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference has said it will call an emergency meeting of its 57 member-states if Trump takes the Israeli option and Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit has warned against it.

The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas has called for a new intifada if the move goes ahead and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has declared it would "destroy the peace process".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, which is responsible for Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, at the weekend.

On Sunday Trump's Middle East adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, declared that the Middle East peace process is vital to the administration's plan to build a coalition of Israel and Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia, to counter Iran's influence in the region and combat Islamist violence.