Trump’s Jerusalem dec­la­ra­tion sparks anger

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NEWS | TOP STORY - By Samir Zedan, Laura King and Alexan­dra Zavis

JERUSALEM >> Fresh anger poured in from across the Mus­lim world Wed­nes­day as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said the United States rec­og­nizes Jerusalem as Israel’s cap­i­tal, a move that Arab and Euro­pean lead­ers have warned could spark vi­o­lence and de­stroy any hopes of re­viv­ing the Mideast peace process.

Israel re­sponded with sat­is­fac­tion to the pres­i­dent’s an­nounce­ment, in which Trump also said he was set­ting in mo­tion the process of mov­ing the Amer­i­can Em­bassy from Tel Aviv. In a show of ap­pre­ci­a­tion, the Jerusalem mu­nic­i­pal­ity pro­jected the Amer­i­can and Is­raeli flags onto the walls of the Old City, home to im­por­tant Jewish, Mus­lim and Chris­tian holy sites.

Yet even as Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu praised the pres­i­dent’s dec­la­ra­tion as “coura­geous and just,” Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas slammed the “de­struc­tion of all the ef­forts to achieve peace.”

AHEAD OF THE an­nounce­ment, U.S. al­lies in the Mid­dle East and Europe had urged Trump to re­frain from tak­ing steps they fear could ig­nite un­rest across the re­gion.

Jerusalem’s sta­tus is one of the most sen­si­tive and in­flam­ma­tory is­sues fu­el­ing the Israel-Pales­tinian con­flict. Israel claims the city in en­tirety as its cap­i­tal; Pales­tini­ans want the eastern sec­tor to be the seat of gov­ern­ment for a fu­ture state.

U.N. Sec­re­tary-General An­to­nio Guter­res, speak­ing from New York mo­ments af­ter the pres­i­dent fin­ished his ad­dress, said Jerusalem’s sta­tus was an is­sue to be de­cided through ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“In this mo­ment of great anx­i­ety, I want to make it clear there is no al­ter­na­tive to the two-state so­lu­tion,” he said, re­fer­ring to a broad in­ter­na­tional con­sen­sus sup­port­ing side-by-side Is­raeli and Pales­tinian states.

At the Vat­i­can, Pope Fran­cis prayed that Jerusalem’s sta­tus quo would be pre­served to avoid adding new ten­sion to a world “al­ready shaken and scarred by many cruel con­flicts.”

“Jerusalem is a unique city, sa­cred to Jews, Chris­tians and Mus­lims who ven­er­ate the holy places of their re­spec­tive re­li­gions, and has a spe­cial vo­ca­tion to peace,” Fran­cis said at his weekly au­di­ence.

Lead­ers from Bri­tain, France, Ger­many and Italy joined in the cho­rus of op­pro­brium for Trump’s de­ci­sion. France’s Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron called the U.S. move “re­gret­table.” Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said she in­tended to speak with Trump and ex­press con­cerns.

Tur­key’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, meet­ing in the Turk­ish cap­i­tal with Jor­dan’s King Ab­dul­lah II, said the U.S. pres­i­dent’s stance would pro­vide a boost for ter­ror­ist groups. The lead­ers plan to con­vene ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ings of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion and the Arab League in the com­ing days to dis­cuss the re­gion’s re­sponse to the U.S. moves.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Arab League’s sec­re­tary-general, said he was sur­prised that the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion would “get involved in an un­jus­ti­fied provo­ca­tion of the feel­ings of 360 mil­lion Arabs and 1.5 bil­lion Mus­lims to please Israel.”

The sta­tus of Israel is one of the few is­sues that unites lead­ers in a part of the world riven by war and sec­tar­ian di­vides. Archri­vals Saudi Ara­bia and Iran, which are en­gaged in deadly proxy con­flicts in Ye­men and Syria, have of­fered some of the harsh­est com­men­tary about Trump’s plan in re­cent days.

The Is­lamic Re­pub­lic’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, told a gath­er­ing of Ira­nian of­fi­cials Wed­nes­day that “with­out a doubt, the Is­lamic world will re­sist this con­spir­acy … and beloved Pales­tine will fi­nally be freed,” the semiof­fi­cial Fars news agency re­ported.

PALES­TINI­ANS, al­ready dis­cour­aged over what they de­scribe as a con­sis­tently pro-Israel stance by the United States, said Trump’s de­ci­sion es­sen­tially killed any re­main­ing peace hopes. Lead­ers called for three “days of rage” cul­mi­nat­ing af­ter Fri­day prayers.

Although protests in the West Bank were muted Wed­nes­day, in part be­cause of the cold weather and rain, hun­dreds took to the streets in the Gaza Strip, chant­ing an­gry slo­gans against the U.S. and Israel, and burn­ing the flags of both coun­tries.

“Trump has just de­clared the end of the two-state so­lu­tion,” said Tahrir Aloumor, 36, who joined a demon­stra­tion in the Ja­baliya refugee camp. “Shame on you, Trump.”

In­ter­na­tional back­ing for Trump’s plan was al­most nonex­is­tent, but Is­raeli me­dia re­ports on Wed­nes­day cited at least one leader who is on board with the pres­i­dent’s move: Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, who is de­nounced by hu­man rights groups and many Western gov­ern­ments for a deadly anti-drug cam­paign. Israel’s Chan­nel One re­ported that Duterte ex­pressed in­ter­est in mov­ing his coun­try’s em­bassy, as Trump plans to do, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Wed­nes­day rec­og­nized Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of Israel, re­vers­ing nearly seven decades of Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy and set­ting in mo­tion a plan to move the U.S. Em­bassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely con­tested Holy City. Above, Trump spoke about the de­ci­sion at the White House.

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