US President Donald Trump’s recognition of 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 that continued on Thursday, with fresh warnings from Turkey, the European Union and Russia.
Protests were held in West Bank cities including Ramallah, Hebron 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 dozens wounded from tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire in the West Bank.
Three Palestinians were wounded east of the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, medical sources and witnesses said.
Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has drawn sharp criticism, with the significant exception of Israel.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the US could no longer play the role of peace broker after Trump’s decision.
‘These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,’ Abbas said in a speech.
The secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said Trump had destroyed any hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
‘He destroyed the two-state solution,’ Saeb Erekat, who long served as the Palestinians’ top negotiator, told journalists.
Hamas said Trump’s decision would ‘open the gates of hell’ on US interests in the region.
‘This decision will open the gates of hell on US interests in the region,’ Ismail Radwan, an official with the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, told journalists.
Saudi Arabia slammed Trump’s move as ‘unjustified and irresponsible’ and said the decision goes against the ‘historical and permanent rights of the Palestinian people’.
‘The kingdom has already warned of the serious consequences of such an unjustified and irresponsible move,’ said a Saudi royal court statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Iran condemned the US move, saying it threatened a ‘new intifada’, or uprising, against Israel.
‘The provocative and unwise decision by the US... will provoke Muslims and inflame a new intifada and an escalation of radical, angry and violent behaviour,’ the foreign ministry said on its website.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres implicitly criticised Trump’s announcement, warning that Jerusalem’s status must be resolved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
‘From day one as secretary general of the United Nations, I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,’ Guterres said.
The office of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad dismissed Trump’s move, saying in a statement it would not dim the ‘Palestinian cause’.
‘The future of Jerusalem is not set by a state or a president, but by its history, will, and the determination of those loyal to the Palestinian cause which will stay alive in the conscience of the Arab homeland until the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,’ it said.
Lebanon’s prime minister Saad Hariri vowed his country’s ‘highest degrees of solidarity with the Palestinian people and its right to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital’.
‘The American decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the embassy there is a step that is rejected by the Arab world and risks spilling dangers over into the region,’ he said.
Jordan condemned Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as amounting to a violation of international law and the UN charter.
‘The decision of the American president to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the transfer of the US embassy to this city constitutes a violation of decisions of international law and the United Nations charter,’ said government spokesman Mohammed Momani.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who leads the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, said he ‘condemned’ Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, and ordered the US ambassador in Jakarta to be summoned over the move.
‘Indonesia strongly condemns the United States’ one-sided recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and asks the US to reconsider this decision,’ Widodo said in televised remarks.
Turkey also slammed Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.
‘We condemn the irresponsible statement of the US administration... the decision is against international law and relevant UN resolutions,’ Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau made it clear Thursday that Canada’s embassy in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv, in a split with its neighbor and ally, the United States.
‘We will not be moving Canada’s embassy from Tel Aviv,’ Trudeau said during a visit to Guangzhou, China, broadcast nationally in Canada.
Prime minister Theresa May said the British government disagreed with Trump’s decision, saying it was ‘unhelpful’ for peace efforts.
‘We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital,’ she said in a statement. ‘We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region’.
French president Emmanuel Macron branded Trump’s stance as ‘regrettable’ and called for efforts to ‘avoid violence at all costs’.
Macron affirmed ‘the attachment of France and Europe to the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognised borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states’.
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