A file photo of former UN chief Kofi Anan (Photo:Reuters)
A group of global leaders have strongly criticised the White House’s decision to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, describing it as a serious blow to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a statement issued on Monday the Elders, a group founded by former South African president Nelson Mandela, reaffirmed its long-held position that the city of Jerusalem must be shared between Israelis and Palestinians as "as part of a two-state solution based on the internationally-recognised 1967 border."
Kofi Annan, the chairman of the Elders and former UN secretary-general, is quoted in the statement as saying that the status of Jerusalem can only be changed by agreement between the parties, and then endorsed by the UN.
"Today’s ceremonial opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem is regrettable and makes it harder to maintain the prospect of a viable two-state solution," he said.
The statement also quoted Lakhdar Brahimi, the former Algerian foreign minister and UN diplomat, as saying that unilateral action on the part of the Trump administration only made the prospect of a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more distant.
"Peace will only come when all parties are treated with respect, their rights and grievances acknowledged, and negotiations are undertaken in good faith,” he said.
The Elders also urged other countries not to follow the United States. So far Uruguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Romania have said they will also move their embassies to the disputed city.
The Elders are a group of senior world figures originally brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela in 2007.
Other members include former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, theologian and Anglican cleric, Desmond Tutu and former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedilo.
On Monday, US and Israeli officials oversaw the inauguration of the American embassy in its new location in East Jerusalem.
Over 52 Palestinians were killed on Monday by Israeli occupation troops at the Gazan-Israeli border while protesting the inauguration.