Patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem have written a special letter to Donald Trump pleading with him not to change the 'international' status of the city hours ahead of the President's planned statement recognising it as Israel's capital.
The letter, reported by the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, warned that any 'sudden changes would cause irreparable harm, and comes amid intense speculation that Trump will also announce that the US is to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
'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 wrote.
Urging Trump not to change the status quo in the city that bears religious and historic significance to Christians, Muslims and Jews alike, the clerics tell him 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 asked Trump to take more time on any decisions, and said 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 of the letter represent a diverse variety of churches affiliated with Catholic, evangelical, Orthodox and Apostolic religious sites.
The letter came as protests erupted across the Palestinian territories, including Gaza and Bethlehem, where Christians gathered to object to the plans and some Palestinians burned US and Israeli flags.
Earlier, Pope Francis said: 'I cannot keep silent my deep concern' about the proposed changes to the status quo in Jerusalem.