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Trump Jerusalem move sparks outrage
December 08, 2017
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RAMALLAH: US President Donald Trump’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparked Palestinian protests, clashes and a call for a new intifada on Thursday as fears grew of fresh bloodshed in the region.

Trump’s announcement also prompted an almost universal diplomatic backlash, with fresh warnings from Turkey, the European Union and Russia.

In a speech in Gaza City, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new intifada, or uprising.

Protests were held in West Bank cities including Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus, as well as in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces dispersed several hundred protesters with tear gas at a checkpoint at the entrance to Ramallah, while the Palestinian Red Crescent reported 22 people wounded from live fire or rubber bullets in the West Bank.

Five Palestinians were wounded from Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip as dozens protested near the barrier sealing off the enclave from Israel, Gazan authorities said.

Trump’s defiant move − making good on a pledge from his 2016 presidential campaign − ends seven decades of US ambiguity on the status of the Holy City, claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday during a visit to Vienna that Trump was “simply carrying out the will of the American people.”

But his willingness to part with international consensus on such a sensitive issue drew increasingly urgent warnings from around the world.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the decision could take the region “backwards to even darker times.”

Russia said it viewed the move with “serious concern.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it would put the region in a “ring of fire”.

“What kind of approach is this? Political leaders do not stir things up, they seek to make peace,” he said.

Palestinian leaders were outraged, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying Trump had disqualified the United States from its traditional role as peace broker in the Middle East conflict.

Abbas visited Amman on Thursday to discuss the issue with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

In a joint statement, the two leaders said “any measure tampering with the legal and historical status of Jerusalem is invalid” and warned that Trump’s decision “will have dangerous repercussions.”

Angry protests were staged in Amman and Tunis.

Palestinian shops in east Jerusalem, including the Old City, as well as in the West Bank were largely shuttered and schools closed on Thursday in answer to a general strike call. Through gritted teeth, Britain described the move as “unhelpful” and France called it “regrettable.”

Germany said plainly that it “does not support” Trump’s decision.

Eight countries including Britain, France and Italy pressed for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in response, which was set for Friday.

Trump also kicked off the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem.

The international community does not recognise the ancient city as Israel’s capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved in negotiations − a point reiterated by UN chief Antonio Guterres in the wake of Trump’s decision.

Guterres implicitly criticised Trump, stressing his opposition to “any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace”.

Trump insisted the move did not prejudge final talks, saying it simply reflected the reality that west Jerusalem is and will continue to be part of Israel under any settlement.

“The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides,” Trump said, as he announced that Vice President Mike Pence would travel to the region in coming days.

Agence France-Presse

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