Jerusalem's Christian Leaders to Trump: Recognition Will Cause 'Irreparable Damage'

Heads of local churches express concern over reports on his expected Jerusalem policy change; 'the Holy City can be shared'

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greeted by priests and others as they arrive for their visit at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 22, 2017.
HEIDI LEVINE/AFP

Patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem penned a special letter addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump to express their concern over his intention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and possibly relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The letter, sent on Wednesday hours ahead of the expected announcement by Trump, asks the president to walk back on the potential unilateral recognition of the city as solely Israeli. "Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm," the clerics pleaded with the president.

>> United Jerusalem? Trump's recognition of Israeli capital may carry an unexpected price | Exclusive ■ Trump just upended the entire history of Middle East diplomacy - and delivered Netanyahu's ultimate coup | Analysis ■ Prince Hassan of Jordan: Donald Trump's Jerusalem move plays politics with international law - and our lives | Opinion ■ 'Two-state solution is over,' top Palestinian diplomat says after Trump's Jerusalem speech | Opinion >>

Calling on Trump not to change the status quo of the city that bears historic and religious significance to Christians, Muslims and Jews alike, the clerics told Trump that "the Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people, that live within it, from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing."

The heads of churches implored Trump to take more time to reconsider the significant change in American policy on the contested city, and shared with him that they have been "following, with concern, the reports about the possibility of changing how the United States understands and deals with the status of Jerusalem."

The thirteen signatories on the letter all represent a diverse variety of churches affiliated with Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Apostolic religious sites.

Evangelical Christians in particular, both those based in Israel and elsewhere in the world, have pressed in the past for the American president to make the historical step and move the embassy to Jerusalem. 

They finished their letter by bidding Trump a merry Christmas and inviting him to see Christmas celebrations in Jerusalem, which they said accentuate the diversity the city enjoys now– and might no longer have– should it not be of the same heterogeoneous nature it boasts of today.