JERUSALEM -- Fresh anger poured in from across the Muslim world Wednesday as President Donald Trump said the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a move that Arab and European leaders have warned could spark violence and destroy any hopes of reviving the Mideast peace process.
Israel responded with satisfaction to the president's announcement, in which Trump also said he was setting in motion the process of moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv. In a show of appreciation, the Jerusalem municipality projected the American and Israeli flags onto the walls of the Old City, home to important Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites.
Yet even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the president's declaration as "courageous and just," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the "destruction of all the efforts to achieve peace."
Ahead of the announcement, U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe had urged Trump to refrain from taking steps they fear could ignite unrest across the region.
Jerusalem's status is one of the most sensitive and inflammatory issues fueling the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Israel claims the city in entirety as its capital; Palestinians want the eastern sector to be the seat of government for a future state.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking from New York moments after the president finished his address, said Jerusalem's status was an issue to be decided through negotiations.
"In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear there is no alternative to the two-state solution," he said, referring to a broad international consensus supporting side-by-side Israeli and Palestinian states.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis prayed that Jerusalem's status quo would be preserved to avoid adding new tension to a world "already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts."
"Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims who venerate the holy places of their respective religions, and has a special vocation to peace," Francis said at his weekly audience.
Leaders from Britain, France, Germany and Italy joined in the chorus of opprobrium for Trump's decision. France's President Emmanuel Macron called the U.S. move "regrettable." British Prime Minister Theresa May said she intended to speak with Trump and express concerns.