Clashes in Is­rael af­ter Trump’s Jerusalem move

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Raf Sanchez in Jerusalem

Pales­tinian youths clashed with Is­raeli troops as Ha­mas called for a “new in­tifada” in re­sponse to Don­ald Trump’s recog­ni­tion of Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal. The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is to dis­cuss the in­flamed sit­u­a­tion in an emer­gency meet­ing to de­bate Mr Trump’s an­nounce­ment.

THE US em­bassy in Jerusalem is likely to be built on what is to­day a muddy field on the site of a former Bri­tish Army bar­racks.

Ever since 1989, when the Is­raelipales­tinian peace process be­gan to gather steam, the US gov­ern­ment has leased the land from Is­rael for just $1 (74p).

The 7.7 acre site, which is off one of the main thor­ough­fares in west Jerusalem, has re­mained mys­te­ri­ously empty for nearly 30 years, even as shop­ping malls and hous­ing units have risen around it.

Many ob­servers now be­lieve it is be­ing kept open to house the Amer­i­can em­bassy in Is­rael.

The site was once the home of the Al­lenby Bar­racks, a Bri­tish gar­ri­son named af­ter Gen­eral Ed­mund Al­lenby, who cap­tured Jerusalem from the Ot­tomans 100 years ago.

Bri­tish troops aban­doned the bar­racks when they with­drew from the Pales­tinian man­date in 1948 and the site was later used by Is­raeli po­lice. As with so many other sites in the tor­tured po­lit­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy of Jerusalem, own­er­ship of the land is con­tro­ver­sial. Pales­tini­ans as­sert that some of the land was owned by fam­i­lies who fled dur­ing the 1948 war and were never al­lowed to re­turn, leav­ing their land to be con­fis­cated by the new Is­raeli state. An­other part was al­legedly owned by the Waqf, the Mus­lim re­li­gious author­ity which man­ages the al-aqsa mosque.

When a US se­na­tor raised con­cerns about the own­er­ship of the site in 1989,

the state de­part­ment said it had car­ried out “a thor­ough ti­tle search” and could find no ev­i­dence of the Waqf’s claims.

A ma­jor study car­ried out by Walid Kha­lidi, the Pales­tinian aca­demic, con­cluded there was merit to the Pales­tinian claims and it was there­fore “un­be­com­ing for the United States’s fu­ture em­bassy in that city to be built on land that is stolen prop­erty”.

Pales­tinian op­po­nents of the em­bassy move might try to tie the process up in court by ar­gu­ing over land rights.

US of­fi­cials said there had been no fi­nal de­ci­sion on where the Amer­i­can em­bassy would be lo­cated and that the process of mov­ing it from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would likely take four years or more.

A few yards from the site, Nasri Abu Ra­jab, a 33-year-old Pales­tinian con­struc­tion worker, was set­ting pave­ment tiles.

He had wo­ken up at 2.30am at his home in the vil­lage of Yatta, in the oc­cu­pied West Bank, to come through a mil­i­tary check­point to work in Jerusalem, where a day’s shift is worth 220 shekels (£47).

He had watched Don­ald Trump’s speech, stay­ing awake de­spite his ex­haus­tion from a day of labour­ing.

When asked if he would work on build­ing the new US em­bassy, Mr Abu Ra­jab shook his head and said he would refuse.

“Trump is talk­ing non­sense,” he said. “He is deep­en­ing the con­flict be­tween Pales­tine and the Is­raelis. He should be bring­ing the two sides to­gether to make peace.”

May 1948: a sol­dier at Al­lenby Bar­racks, Jerusalem, be­fore the Bri­tish with­drawal

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