Pope Francis has called on President Donald Trump to “respect the status quo” on Jerusalem, as the US leader prepares to recognise the disputed city as the capital of Israel.

Mr. Trump is due to announce the controversial decision in a speech later on Wednesday.

But the Catholic pontiff, in a statement from the Vatican, said dialogue would only come through “recognising the rights of all people” in the region.

President Trump is expected to approve moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although the implementation would be put on hold for several years.

Israel welcomes the changes but the Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned they will jeopardise any Middle East peace process.

Mr. Trump reportedly called the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the heads of state of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to inform them of his expected announcement.

BBC reports the Palestinians’ UK representative, Manuel Hassassian, as saying the changes would be the “kiss of death” to the two-state solution and would amount to declaring war in the Middle East.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to comment officially but Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on other countries to follow Washington’s lead.

The UK said it viewed Mr. Trump’s planned announcement “with concern”.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its “eternal capital”, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

But in recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US becomes the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.