Pales­tini­ans say US can no longer play role of peace me­di­a­tor

Pales­tinian youth take to the streets to throw stones at oc­cu­pa­tion sol­diers

Gulf News - - Front Page -

Across the world con­dem­na­tions have been sounded over Wash­ing­ton’s recog­ni­tion of Oc­cu­pied Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal.

Pales­tini­ans said the move meant that the US could no longer play the role as a peace me­di­a­tor.

The Euro­pean Union and United Na­tions also voiced alarm at US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion and its reper­cus­sions for any chances of re­viv­ing Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace­mak­ing.

Ma­jor US al­lies came out against Trump’s re­ver­sal of decades of US and broad in­ter­na­tional pol­icy on Oc­cu­pied Jerusalem.

Call for calm

France re­jected the “uni­lat­eral” de­ci­sion while ap­peal­ing for calm in the re­gion.

Bri­tain said the move would not help peace ef­forts and Oc­cu­pied Jerusalem should ul­ti­mately be shared by Is­rael and a fu­ture Pales­tinian state.

Ger­many said Oc­cu­pied Jerusalem’s sta­tus could only be re­solved on the ba­sis of a twostate so­lu­tion.

Is­rael, by con­trast, ap­plauded Trump’s move. Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said in a pre-recorded video mes­sage that it was “an im­por­tant step to­wards peace” and it was “our goal from Is­rael’s first day”.

Trump up­ended decades of US pol­icy in de­fi­ance of warn­ings from around the world that the ges­ture risks ag­gra­vat­ing con­flict in the tin­der­box Mid­dle East.

Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, in a pre-recorded speech, said Oc­cu­pied Jerusalem was the “eter­nal cap­i­tal of the State of Pales­tine” and that Trump’s move was “tan­ta­mount to the United States ab­di­cat­ing its role as a peace me­di­a­tor.”

The Pales­tinian Is­lamist group Ha­mas, which has dom­i­nated Gaza since soon after Is­rael ended a 38-year oc­cu­pa­tion in 2005, said Trump had com­mit­ted a “fla­grant ag­gres­sion against the Pales­tinian peo­ple”.

Ha­mas urged Arabs and Mus­lims to “un­der­mine US in­ter­ests in the re­gion” and to “shun Is­rael”.

Down with Amer­ica

Protests broke out in parts of Jor­dan’s cap­i­tal Am­man in­hab­ited by Pales­tinian refugees, with youths chant­ing an­tiAmer­i­can slo­gans.

In the Baqaa refugee camp on Am­man’s out­skirts, hun­dreds roamed the streets de­nounc­ing Trump and urg­ing Jor­dan to scrap its 1994 peace treaty with Is­rael.

“Down with Amer­ica ... Amer­ica is the mother of ter­ror,” they chanted.

An­gry Pales­tini­ans switched off Christ­mas lights at Je­sus’ tra­di­tional birth­place in the Oc­cu­pied West Bank town of Bethlehem and in Ra­mal­lah.

Skir­mishes be­tween Pales­tinian pro­test­ers and Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion sol­diers broke out Thurs­day in Ra­mal­lah and other places in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Pales­tinian Na­tional Au­thor­ity called for a gen­eral strike in Pales­tinian cities and, in Gaza, the Is­lamist Ha­mas move­ment urged its fol­low­ers to ig­nite a third in­tifada, or up­ris­ing, against Is­rael. At a check­point near Ra­mal­lah, Is­raeli forces fired on hun­dreds of Pales­tinian pro­test­ers gath­er­ing to air their anger over Trump’s state­ment. “This will be bad,” said an am­bu­lance driver.

Clashes also erupted in Oc­cu­pied East Jerusalem and at the bor­der fence be­tween Is­rael and Gaza. There were early re­ports of in­juries.

The Saudi Royal Court is­sued a state­ment say­ing that the king­dom fol­lowed “with deep sor­row” Trump’s de­ci­sion and warned of “dangerous con­se­quences”. The state­ment de­scribed the move as “a big step back in ef­forts to ad­vance the peace process”, and urged the US ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­verse its de­ci­sion and ad­here to in­ter­na­tional will.

Egypt brushed off Trump’s de­ci­sion and said it did not change Jerusalem’s true sta­tus.

Jor­dan said Trump’s ac­tion was “legally null” be­cause it con­sol­i­dated Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion of East Jerusalem.

Le­banese Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun said Trump’s Jerusalem de­ci­sion was dangerous and threat­ened the cred­i­bil­ity of the United States as a bro­ker of Mid­dle East peace. He said the move would put back the peace process by decades and threat­ened re­gional sta­bil­ity and per­haps global sta­bil­ity.

A few hun­dred pro­test­ers gath­ered out­side the US con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, a Reuters cam­era­man at the scene said. The protest was largely peace­ful, though some of the demon­stra­tors threw coins and other ob­jects at the con­sulate.

Threat to global se­cu­rity

In South­east Asia, the lead­ers of Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity In­done­sia and Malaysia de­nounced Trump’s ac­tion.

“This can rock global se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity,” In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo, leader of the world’s largest Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tion, told a news con­fer­ence in which he called for the United States to re­con­sider its de­ci­sion.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May dis­agreed with Trump’s em­brace of Oc­cu­pied Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal be­fore a fi­nal­sta­tus agree­ment as this was un­likely to help nur­ture peace in the re­gion, her spokesman said.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron said he did not sup­port Trump’s “uni­lat­eral” move.

“The sta­tus of Jerusalem is a ques­tion of in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity that con­cerns the en­tire in­ter­na­tional community. The sta­tus of Jerusalem must be de­ter­mined by Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans in the frame­work of ne­go­ti­a­tions un­der the aus­pices of the United Na­tions,” Macron told re­porters in Al­giers.

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said there was no al­ter­na­tive to a two-state so­lu­tion and Oc­cu­pied Jerusalem was a fi­nal-sta­tus mat­ter only to be set­tled through di­rect talks.


Pales­tinian demon­stra­tors hold­ing the na­tional flag throw stones at Is­raeli troops dur­ing clashes in the West Bank city of Ra­mal­lah yes­ter­day.

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