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Jerusalem’s final status to be decided by Israelis, Palestinians: US’ Rex Tillerson

Any final decision on the status of Jerusalem will depend on negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said on Friday.

world Updated: Dec 08, 2017 21:24 IST
Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
US secreatry of state Rex Tillerson speaks with French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as they attend the Lebanon international support group meeting in Paris, France.
US secreatry of state Rex Tillerson speaks with French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as they attend the Lebanon international support group meeting in Paris, France. (REUTERS)

Any final decision on the status of Jerusalem will depend on negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said on Friday, appearing to add nuance to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“With respect to the rest of Jerusalem the president ... did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem,” Tillerson said, speaking at a news conference in Paris alongside French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“He was very clear that the final status, including the borders, would be left to the two parties to negotiate and decide,” Tillerson said.

Trump announced this week that the United States was recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning decades of US policy which had left the city’s status to be determined via negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The move has sparked widespread anger in the Arab and Muslim world, while also leading to criticism from European powers and the Vatican, which plays close heed to Christian sites in a city holy to all three monotheistic faiths.

Israeli officials have lauded Trump’s move, while saying that in their minds Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital.

Despite the verbal recognition, Trump signed a waiver keeping the US embassy in Tel Aviv for at least the next six months, rather than moving to Jerusalem.

Tillerson said it was unlikely the embassy would move anytime soon, saying that it would “probably not (move) next year” either. It is expected to take several years to make the transition, both for security and other reasons.

When asked about Saudi Arabia’s role in the region, Tillerson urged Riyadh to be more careful in its actions.

“With respect to Saudi Arabia’s engagement with Qatar, Yemen - where it’s fighting a war - and the Lebanon situation we would encourage them to be a bit more measured and thoughtful in these actions and to fully consider the consequences,” Tillerson said.

He said Washington had been clear that it wanted unimpeded humanitarian access in Yemen.

“We have called for a complete end of the blockade in Yemen and the opening of all ports. We are asking Saudi Arabia allow that access,” he said.