CBSN

U.S. committed to Mideast peace, official says

JERUSALEM -- A senior US. official has appealed to Middle East leaders to calm tensions in the region following the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which has drawn criticism and sparked unrest across the region.

In a briefing with Arab journalists Sunday, Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield said that President Donald Trump's pronouncement last week was a "recognition of simple reality" and not meant to prejudge final-status negotiations about the city's final borders.

He said he hoped Arab and world leaders understand the U.S. remains committed to moving forward with a peace plan he expects to be unveiled in the new year. 

"This is a question of choice: Do leaders choose to speak to their peoples, to their regions in terms that reflect reality or in terms that incite or inflame?" He said. "We hope it's the former." 

Israel's prime minister is backing Mr. Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in the face of criticism, including from its ally France. Benjamin Netanyahu spoke alongside French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Sunday.

Macron said he disapproves of Mr. Trump's move, echoing the criticism of many U.S. allies in Europe and beyond. Macron said "what's new is that the United States unilaterally recognized something that is not complying with the international law."

But Netanyahu said the recognition is "central for peace." He said Jerusalem is the capital of Israel just as Paris is the capital of France.

"We respect your history and your choices," Netanyahu told Macron, "And we know that as friends you respect ours." 

Netanyahu said Jerusalem had been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and had "never been the capital of any other people," BBC News reports.

Mr. Trump's declaration upended decades of American foreign policy. Under a longstanding international consensus, the fate of contested Jerusalem is to be determined in final status peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.  

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the U.S. intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the city of Rabat

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the U.S. intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the city of Rabat, Morocco, December 10, 2017.

STRINGER/REUTERS

Violence erupted near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and elsewhere on Sunday. Protesters In Beirut burned an effigy of Mr. Trump, U.S. and Israeli flags, as well as piles of garbage, sending plumes of smoke into the air. 

Many demonstrators wore black and white scarves, BBC News reports. They chanted slogans decrying Mr. Trump.