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Netanyahu: Israel's historical, national identity is receiving recognition

Israeli prime minister comments come hours before US expected to announce recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital
Graffiti shows US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kissing, on Israel's separation wall (AFP)

Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel's "historical and national identity is receiving recognition, especially today", hours before Donald Trump was set to announce the US would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital amid growing global condemnation. 

The US president's expected announcement - which will eventually lead to the US embassy being moved from Tel Aviv - has sent shockwaves through the Middle East and wider world.

The Israeli prime minister's comment on Wednesday, his first on the subject since developments this week, was made before he attended a conference organised by the Jerusalem Post in the city.

On Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to coordinate a response to the United States' decision.

Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, called the US decision a "grave mistake... It will not bring any stability but rather chaos and instability. The whole world is against this." 

Jordan and Palestinian representatives called for an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss the issue.

Palestinian representatives said Trump's move would mean the "kiss of death" to the two-state solution, and the official end of any hopes of a peace process.

"He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims (and) hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel," Manuel Hassassian, the chief Palestinian representative to Britain, told BBC radio.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh described Trump's decision as "flagrant aggression".

"This decision is an uncalculated gamble that will know no limit to the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim reaction," he said.

"We call on stopping this decision fully because this will usher in the beginning of a time of terrible transformations, not just on the Palestinian level but on the region as a whole.

A victory of the American people and the American spirit

- Ayelet Shaked, Israeli justice minister 

"This decision means the official announcement of the end of the peace process."

Israeli government ministers used the same Jerusalem conference to hail Trump's decision.

Naftali Bennett, the education minister and head of the far-right Jewish Home party, said: "I call upon other countries to follow the United States and recognise Jerusalem as the Jewish and undivided capital." 

"The United States is adding another brick to the walls of Jerusalem, to the foundation of the Jewish nation."

Ayelet Shaked, the justice minister and also of Jewish Home, said: "I think it is a victory of the American people and the American spirit."

Yisrael Katz, the intelligence and transport minister from Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, said Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem meant "this is an historic day".

"Whoever does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not recognise the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state," he said.

"We expect the international community to support President Trump’s decision."

Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it.

The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.

No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

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