The Israeli military was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank as Hamas urged Palestinians to abandon peace efforts. The Islamist group is calling for a new uprising against Israel in response to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. Protests so far have been scattered and largely non-violent. But dozens of Palestinians gathered at two points on the Gaza border fence with Israel and threw rocks at soldiers on the other side. Inside Gaza, thousands of Palestinians rallied, some chanting: "Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!" and burning tires.
The Islamic Hamas movement on Thursday called for a Palestinian “popular uprising” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The call came amid mass demonstrations across the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
“Tomorrow will be a day of public anger and the launching of an uprising under the name of Intifada of Jerusalem Freedom,” said Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh during a public speech.
He said Friday would be “the beginning of a new movement” to fight Israel’s plan of occupation of West Bank and Jerusalem, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Trump will regret this decision,” said Haniyeh. He also called for a general Palestinian meeting to discuss the current situation and to reach an agreement on future Palestinian politics.
Describing Trump’s recognition as “a turning point in the history of the Palestinian cause”, the Hamas leader stressed that Jerusalem “has always been the source of victory, the beginning of revolutions and the starting point of uprisings”.
He reiterated that Hamas would never recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
On Wednesday, Trump officially announced his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his intention of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city.
The US leader’s declaration triggered a wave of popular anger and outrage among Palestinians. The Palestinian factions and political powers declared a general strike in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Some set fire to the US flags and pictures of Trump in Gaza.
Shops were closed and the business of local markets was affected by the comprehensive strike.
Protests erupted mainly in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron, East Jerusalem as well as in the Gaza Strip. Dozens of youths expressed anger over Trump’s move by setting tires on fire for hours at night in various parts of Gaza.
Also in Gaza, three Palestinians were reportedly injured during clashes with Israeli soldiers.
United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the face of international criticism while asserting that he was “not taking a position of any final status” of the ancient city that is also claimed by Palestine.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking immediately after Trump’s announcement, delivered criticism couched in diplomatic terms, saying he was “against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Guterres added.
Trump invoked the a 1995 law passed by US Congress calling for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to justify fulfilling his campaign promise. As he pointed out, his three predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, issued waivers putting the law on hold but he was now following the intent of the Congress.
While nations and leaders, from China to Pope Francis criticised Trump’s decision and even US allies have refused to follow Washington’s lead on moving embassies to Jerusalem, there was no noticeable political opposition in the US from even the Democrats. In the US, politicians are loath to be seen as anti-Israel and Trump’s move was a challenge to his domestic critics to make it a major politically issue.
Trump’s announcement muddies the diplomatic waters in the Middle East where his son-in-law Jared Kushner is engaged in a so-far unsuccessful peace effort to bring Israel and Palestinians together for a solution to the contentious issue.
“The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides,” Trump said. “I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.”
While declaring that he would ask the State Department to move the embassy to Jerusalem, he added, “This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.”
“We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders,” he added. “Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
That leaves the room for Israel to have West Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestine has its capital in East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel captured during the 1967 Middle East War, if there is an eventual peace agreement between the two sides.
Trump’s announcement is directed towards his domestic base, rather than the world. Almost a year into power, he has failed to fulfill most of his campaign promises ranging from building a wall along the Mexican border to abolishing his Obama’s health insurance programme.
The only high-profile promise he was able to achieve was a tax reform. Now he can add Jerusalem to that without his opposition turning it into a divisive issue.
Pakistan on Thursday joined the international community in expressing its strong opposition and condemnation over US President Donald Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the plan to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city.
“This decision represents a serious violation of international law and applicable UN Security Council resolutions… It is a serious setback to the rule of law and international norms. It signals a severe blow to the Middle East peace process as well,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
President Mamnoon Hussain said the move was “unacceptable to the Muslim world”. Islamabad urged Washington to revisit its decision in order to avoid the potentially grave repercussions in the region and beyond.
Reversing decades of US policy, Trump made the declaration on Wednesday triggering widespread international opposition.
Pakistan called upon the UN Security Council “to take cognizance of this situation and take steps in accordance with the UN Charter”. It further welcomed an announcement by Turkey to convene an “extraordinary” meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on December 13 to discuss the situation.
Saudi Arabia on Thursday condemned it too.
The Saudi Royal Court in a statement warned of serious consequences of such an “irresponsible and unwarranted step”, including further complicating the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
“The decision represents a great bias against the historic and permanent rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, which have been affirmed by international resolutions and recognized and supported by the international community,” the Saudi statement said.
Calling the decision a pivot from the “historically impartial position” of Washington in regard to the issue of Jerusalem, the statement said the decision exemplifies a drastic regress in efforts to move the peace process forward.
Saudi Arabia called on the US administration to reverse this action and support the international will to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights.
Eight of the 15 nations who are currently members of the UN Security Council called for the body to hold an urgent meeting on the US decision by the end of the week. (IANS)