Violence breaks out in Israel

A Palestinian demonstrator during clashes with Israeli troops
Picture: AFP/ Hazem Bader

At least 31 wounded in clashes following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital

The Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians yesterday to abandon peace efforts and launch a new uprising against Israel in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank, deploying several new army battalions and putting other forces on standby, describing the measures as part of its readiness for possible developments.

Medics said at least 31 people had been wounded by Israeli army gunfire when Palestinian protests erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday.

They said 11 had been hit by live bullets and 20 by rubber bullets. One person was in a critical condition.

Some protesters threw rocks at soldiers and others chanted: “Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!”.

Trump reversed decades of US policy on Wednesday by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, imperilling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies.

The status of Jerusalem – home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions – is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada [Palestinian uprising] in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in Gaza.

He urged Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs to hold rallies against the US decision today, calling it a “day of rage”.

Naser al-Qidwa, an aide to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior official in his Fatah party, urged Palestinians to stage protests, but said they should be peaceful.

Asked on Israel Radio whether there might be another intifada, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said: “In my estimate Abu Mazen [Abbas] will not wreck matters. “It would not [help] him.” Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital.

Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

Trump said his administration would begin a process of moving the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step expected to take years, and a move his predecessors opted not to take to avoid inflaming tensions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hailed Trump’s announcement as a historic landmark, said many countries would follow the US move and contacts were under way.

He did not name the countries he was referring to.

“President Trump has immortalised himself in the chronicles of our capital,” he said.

“His name will now be held aloft, alongside other names connected to the glorious history of Jerusalem and of our people.”

Other close Western allies of Washington, including France and Britain, have been critical of Trump’s move.

Pope Francis has called for Jerusalem’s status quo to be respected, while China and Russia have also expressed concern.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said: “The European Union has a clear and united position.

“We believe the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states and with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

The UN Security Council was likely to meet today to discuss the US decision, diplomats said. – Reuters

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