AFP / Musa AL SHAER
Palestinian protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump at Eating Square in West Bank City of Bethlehem
US President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital outraged Palestinian leaders who said it disqualified the United States as a peace broker, but was hailed by Israel as historic. The city, however, remained calm on a cold and rainy evening After Trump’s speeches with the sign of protesters, while Israeli citizens projected an American flag on the walls in one of Jerusalem’s ancient Old City in celebration.
Palestinian demonstrations were set for the West Bank on Thursday, and several thousand marched in the Gaza-Strip Hamas-run on Wednesday night, burning US and Israeli flags while chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Palestinian leaders in the West Bank were left fuming after Trump’s speech and outraged, declaring that the Middle East peace broker. President Mahmud Abbas called it “deplorable”. “These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,” Abbas said in a speech after Trump’s announcement. He said it amounted to “an announcement of US withdrawal from playing the role in the past decade in sponsoring the peace process.” Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization who has long been serving the Palestinians’ top negotiator, said Trump had “destroyed the two-state solution”. “As a chief Palestinian negotiator, how can I sit with these people if they dictate me the future of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?” he said. “I think tonight is strengthening the forces of extremists in this region,” Erekat said, referring to Trump. Trump’s move upturns in the past, with no other country currently taking the same stance. Jerusalem’s status is one of the most difficult issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the US’s position is that it must be negotiated between the two sides. While Israel has long considered Jerusalem its capital, with the prime minister’s office and parliament building located there, countries have avoided recognizing it as such to prevent damaging hopes for a two-state solution. The Palestinians see the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state. – ‘Focus of our hopes’ – A decision like Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as “historic” and “courageous and just”. “This is a historic day,” Netanyahu said in a video message released immediately after Trump’s speech.
AFP / John SAEKI
“Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, it has been the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years,” he added, referring to Jewish history in the region and founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948. “Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia.”
“We are profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and prepare for the opening of the US embassy here.” Netanyahu also called on “all countries that seek peace to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move their embassies here”. Netanyahu pledged no change to the status quo at Jerusalem’s highly sensitive holy sites in the city to Jews, Christians and Muslims – frequently the source of tension. But while Netanyahu may have hoped for calm tensions with the pledge, the fallout of such a controversial decision regarding a city was intensely disputed. While Palestinians have been divided between armed Islamist movement Hamas and Abbas Fatah in recent years, Jerusalem remains one of the issues that unites them. Hamas had issued warnings in recent days. “This decision will open the gates of hell on US interests in the region,” Hamas official Ismail Radwan told reporters after Trump’s announcement. He called on Arab and Islamic States to “cut off economic and political ties with the US embassy and expel American ambassadors to cripple” this decision. The West Bank of Bethlehem, President of the West Bank of Jerusalem, presumed to be in the city of Bethlehem. But Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said of Trump’s statement that “there is no more fitting or beautiful gift we approach 70 years of the state of Israel’s independence.”