President Donald Trump has broken with decades of US policy and formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Declaring it was time for a new approach to peace in the Middle East, Mr Trump said: "We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches."

He said the decision was a "long overdue" step to advance the peace process.

"Therefore I have determined it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel..." he said, adding that the move was "nothing more or less than the recognition of reality".

The move - which will see the US move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a process which is expected to take years - has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said he was "profoundly grateful" at Mr Trump's decision. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the shift in policy as a "declaration of withdrawal" from its role in the peace process.

Many world leaders were critical of the decision including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and numerous Middle Eastern leaders and the decision sparked protests in Gaza City and Istanbul in Turkey.

Reaction among Christian leaders was mixed. Pope Francis urged respect for the city's "status quo" and said he was praying that its identity is "preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world,” he said, “and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a tweet that "The status quo of the City of Jerusalem is one of the few stable elements of hope for peace and reconciliation for Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Lands" and called on people to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem".

In a letter written to Mr Trump earlier this week, church leaders - including the patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Orthodox patriarchates and the archbishops of the Latin, Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox patriarchates - wrote that they were certain such a move would "yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division".

Asking the President to continue recognising the international status of Jerusalem, they said any sudden changes "would cause irreparable harm".

In the US, the move was welcomed by some evangelical leaders. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, said Jerusalem "is and should be recognized as the capital of Israel", saying Mr Trump had demonstrated "true leadership and describing him as a "modern-day profile in courage, accomplishing what no other president has been willing to do".

Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, said the organisation was "so grateful for President Trump’s pro-Israel stance and his bold leadership".

"Like the President, we remain fully committed to seeing the US embassy moved to Jerusalem, the seat of the Israeli government, as soon as possible. To do otherwise will only give false encouragement to Israel’s enemies, many of whom still refuse to acknowledge its existence or maintain diplomatic relations with its government.”

- with reporting by Emily McFarlan Miller of Religion News Service.