Israeli security forces were readying themselves Friday for mass demonstrations by Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem in response to a statement made by President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said units had been beefed up in and around the Old City. However, he said there would be no restrictions on Muslim worshipers entering to pray at the holy Haram al-Sharif compound.
He said security forces were hoping for quiet but prepared for unrest at the protests set to take place following noontime prayers.
On Thursday, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces in Jerusalem, Ramallah and other places in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In some places, demonstrators burning American flags and posters of Trump. Palestinian Red Crescent said that more than 100 people were injured.
The United Nations Security Council is also expected to meet Friday after eight countries on the 15-member body requested a briefing on the U.S. decision, which the Palestinians claim breaches U.N. resolutions and international law.
Following Trump’s speech on Wednesday, the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza urged its followers to ignite a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel. Palestinian factions in the West Bank called for three days of rage and the Palestinian Authority ordered a general strike, shuttering all its public institutions.
Trump’s announcement that he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and his declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital reversed a decades-old U.S. policy.
Although it is unclear how Trump’s recognition will play out in practice, any perceived changes to the status of the city — holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews and struggled over for millennia — is a deeply charged issue that resonates beyond the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
A report by the Associated Press on Thursday said the State Department had no plan “at this time” to change America’s current practice regarding listing Jerusalem as Israel on consular reports of births abroad and on U.S. passports issued in Jerusalem. A thorny issue that reached the Supreme Court in 2015 when American parents vied to have Israeli listed on the passport of their Jerusalem-born son.
Still, the backlash against Trump’s recognition of Israel’s right to call Jerusalem its capital rippled across the wider region, with hundreds of demonstrators gathering outside the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Jordan holding placards reading “Decision Rejected” and “No to U.S. arrogance.” Criticisms continued to flow in from governments in the Middle East, Europe and beyond, with U.S. friends and adversaries alike voicing disapproval and alarm.
Turkey’s president predicted that the region would ignite in a “ring of fire,” while European leaders reiterated their opposition to the policy, and 86-year-old Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu declared, “God is weeping.”
“This will be bad,” said an ambulance driver in Ramallah as young men burned tires and pelted the soldiers with stones. Emergency vehicles ferried the injured away.
In some places, notably Gaza, protesters set fire to images of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to U.S. and Israeli flags.
In response to three projectiles fired at its territory from Gaza, Israeli jets and tanks struck two Hamas military sites in the strip, the Israeli army said in a statement.
How long the protests will last remains unclear. Some Palestinians said they felt emboldened after a perceived victory last summer that followed two weeks of protests over metal detectors installed at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new uprising in the Palestinian territories and declared Friday a day of rage.
“Tomorrow should be a day of rage and the beginning of a broad movement for an uprising that I call the intifada of freedom of Jerusalem,” he said.
He called on the Palestinian Authority to halt security coordination with Israel and “enable the resistance in the occupied West Bank to respond to this blatant aggression.”
Israel’s army said it was preparing for an increase in violence in the coming days and had increased its strength in the West Bank, reinforcing its combat intelligence and territorial defense units. Israeli police said three people were arrested in connection with “disturbances” near Damascus Gate, a main portal for Jerusalem’s Old City.
U.S. institutions in the region were also preparing for possible violent fallout. The State Department restricted travel for U.S. government employees in Jerusalem and the West Bank, warning U.S. citizens to avoid crowded areas.
After Trump’s announcement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States could no longer be a fair mediator in the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. He said it would galvanize the Palestinian struggle for independence.
In Israel, however, the mood was buoyant, with government ministers and pundits declaring a diplomatic victory for the Jewish state and for Netanyahu.
Netanyahu heralded Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as a “historic statement,” and in a video published on his Facebook page, he likened Trump to British Foreign minister Lord Balfour whose declaration 100 years ago lead the way to the creation of Israel
“President Trump has always linked himself to the history of our capital,” he said. “His name will now float along with other names in the context of the glorious history of Jerusalem and our people.”
Source: Washington Post