DONALD Trump has been accused by Hamas of opening “the gates of hell” after his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparked an international backlash.

But the US President’s confirmation of the move last night was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He described it as historic and an “important step towards peace”.

Hamas, the militant group which aims to liberate Palestine from the Israeli occupation, made the “gates of hell” remark in a reference to how it claimed the decision would hit US interests in the region.

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Hundreds of people gathered to protest against Mr Trump’s decision outside the US Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Extra security was also put in place at US embassies in the Middle East and Germany.

Analysis: Trump's Jerusalem Announcement Likely to Inflame Israeli-Palestinian Tensions

The US embassy in Tel Aviv, which is set to switch to Jerusalem as part of the move, urged its diplomats and their relatives not to carry out personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank for now.

However, there were more peaceful scenes at a wall to the old city of Jerusalem, where the Stars and Stripes flag was projected onto it - alongside a projection of the Israeli flag.

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Palestinians believe the status of East Jerusalem, which has been under Israeli rule since the 1967 Six-Day War – but until now not recognised as its capital internationally, should not be discussed until the later stages of peace talks. This is backed up by the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords.

According to reports in Palestine, Hamas chief Ismail Haniya warned of ‘serious repercussions of this decision which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and a dangerous escalation that will drag the region into a new phase of conflict.

Mr Trump said the decision, which turned decades of US foreign policy on its head, was “long overdue” adding that many of his predecessors had wanted, but failed, to recognise the city in this way.

Analysis: Trump's Jerusalem Announcement Likely to Inflame Israeli-Palestinian Tensions

In a White House address, the President said he had “judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians”.

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Mr Netanyahu, who said he was “profoundly grateful”, added that he would “continue to work with the President and his team” to make that dream “come true.”

Earlier, the Arab League called Mr Trump’s move “a dangerous measure that would have repercussions” in the region. The group also suggested it called into question the US’s role as a “trusted mediator” in peace talks. King Salman of Saudi Arabia told him by phone the decision would “harm the peace negotiation process and escalate tension in the region”.

Jordan’s King Abdullah said joint efforts were required to deal with the fall-out and any decision which undermines the Palestinians “aspirations for their own independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

Analysis: Trump's Jerusalem Announcement Likely to Inflame Israeli-Palestinian Tensions

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, the self-governing body of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, went further, saying the US had effectively abdicated its role as peace mediator.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Mr Trump’s move was “regrettable”.

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Pope Francis said: “I appeal strongly for all to respect the city’s status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.” The UN said the city was “a final-status issue”.

Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was “reckless, wrong and a threat to peace”.

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The First Minister tweeted last night that the move was “being rightly condemned across the international community”.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the US President’s announcement was “unhelpful” to prospects for peace in the region.

She said: “Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.”

She said the British Embassy would not move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, adding: “To have the best chances of success, the peace process must be conducted in an atmosphere free from violence.”

Analysis: Trump's Jerusalem Announcement Likely to Inflame Israeli-Palestinian Tensions

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran felt it was “out of despair and debility that they want to declare Jerusalem as capital of the Zionist regime”.

Human rights group Amnesty International said the US was guilty of “violating its own international legal obligations not to recognise or assist an illegal situation and to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.”