Fri, Dec 08, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Trump’s Jerusalem move sparks protests, clashes

‘IRRESPONSIBLE’:Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Donald Trump had disqualified Washington from its traditional role as peace broker in the Middle East conflict

AFP, RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital yesterday sparked Palestinian protests, clashes and a call for a new intifada as fears grew of fresh bloodshed in the region.

Trump’s announcement also prompted an almost universal diplomatic backlash that continued yesterday with fresh warnings from Turkey, the EU and Russia.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lavished praise on Trump, saying his name would now be associated with Jerusalem’s long history and urging other nations to follow his lead.

The Israeli military deployed hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank amid uncertainty over the fallout, while clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces erupted in various areas.

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

Protests were held in West Bank cities 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.

Trump’s defiant move — making good on a pledge made during his presidential campaign last year — ends seven decades of US ambiguity on the status of the city, which is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump said it marks the start of a “new approach” to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said in a speech from the White House on Wednesday, urging calm and “the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”

However, his willingness to part with international consensus on such a sensitive issue drew increasingly urgent warnings.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said the decision could take the region “backwards to even darker times.”

Russia said it viewed the move with “serious concern,” while Saudi Arabia called it “unjustified and irresponsible.”

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

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

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

Palestinian shops in east Jerusalem, including the Old City, as well as in the West Bank were largely shuttered and schools closed after a general strike was called.

“By this decision, America became a very small country, like any small country in the world, like Micronesia,” Salah Zuhikeh, 55, said in Jerusalem’s Old City. “America was a great country for us and everyone.”

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