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Senior US officials warn Trump against Jerusalem embassy move

A giant banner in Jerusalem celebrates US President Donald Trump's election victory. [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2017

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Senior officials in the US State Department, Department of Defence, and US intelligence services have urged the White House not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Senior officials in the US State Department, Department of Defence and US intelligence services have urged the White House not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, CNN reported, as plans to move the US embassy to the disputed city continue to gain momentum.

Trump repeatedly promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during his presidential campaign, and Vice President Mike Pence said this month that the president is giving it "serious consideration".

Relocating the embassy to Jerusalem would effectively give recognition to Israel's claim over the holy city, which was illegally annexed after the 1967 war.

The warning from US government agencies sets them firmly at odds with top Trump advisers and the new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who have all urged Trump to follow through with the proposal and announce the dramatic shift in longstanding US policy during an upcoming trip to Israel on May 22.

The proposed move has been condemned internationally and in the Arab world as a serious setback for any hopes to achieve a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again insisted that he had asked Donald Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem, responding to media reports which stated the contrary.

Fox News correspondent Conor Powell had earlier posted on his Twitter account that "everyone" he had spoken to in Washington said that Netanyahu told Trump not to go through with the move.

Netanyahu hit back shortly afterwards, clearly angered by the suggestion, and referred to readouts of the Israeli PM's visit to the White House in February.

"The PM was asked about the embassy and explained [that moving it] would not lead to bloodshed in the region, as some were trying to intimidate [President Trump] into believing," the Prime Minister's Office said.

"The embassy -- the PM supports moving it," another read.

East Jerusalem, where the most important Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious sites are located, is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law.

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