NewsCO.com.au – Jerusalem: Israel braced for protests over Trump declaration

December 8, 2017

Israeli security personnel in Jerusalem's Old City (08/12/17)Image copyright
AFP

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Extra forces have been deployed at sensitive locations

Israeli forces are on high alert for protests in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank against the US declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hundreds of extra police have been deployed in Jerusalem’s Old City, and additional battalions sent to the West Bank, after clashes there on Thursday.

Dozens of Palestinians were hurt in the violence as protesters fought troops.

Donald Trump’s announcement was hailed by Israel but condemned across the Arab and Islamic world.

Western allies of the US have also disavowed the move, which reversed decades of US policy of neutrality towards Jerusalem’s status.

  • Anger in the West Bank and delight in West Jerusalem

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US became the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.

Where has there been violence?

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said “several hundred” extra police had been despatched inside and around the Old City in East Jerusalem in anticipation of protests after Muslim Friday prayers.

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Media –Analysis: Breaking down what Mr Trump said and what it means for peace

The vicinity, containing contentious holy sites, is a flashpoint for violence. The Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for Palestinians to take to the streets on Friday, while the Gaza-based militant Islamist group Hamas has called for a “day of rage” and a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel.

Clashes erupted across the West Bank, as well as in part of East Jerusalem and on the Gaza-Israel border on Thursday, leaving dozens of Palestinians wounded.

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Media –Why the city of Jerusalem matters

Israeli forces struck “two military posts” in Gaza on Thursday, the army said, after three rockets were fired at Israel from inside the Palestinian enclave. There were no reports of injuries.

Elsewhere, demonstrations against Donald Trump’s announcement have spread.

Image copyright
EPA

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In Kuala Lumpur, demonstrators burnt an effigy of Donald Trump

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters held noisy demonstrations in Jordan, Egypt and Iran.

Further afield, protesters rallied in Malaysia, Bangladesh and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

How has the international community reacted?

There has been widespread denunciation of Donald Trump’s move, especially in the Muslim world.

America’s closest Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, have expressed their opposition, while Egypt, Bolivia, France, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, the UK and Uruguay have called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday to discuss the step.

  • Which countries condemned Trump’s move?

The Palestinian president said Donald Trump’s announcement was “deplorable” and a senior Palestinian official said US Vice-President Mike Pence is “not welcome in Palestine” during a planned visit to the region later this month.

Israel’s arch-foe Iran accused Donald Trump of trying to provoke a war, while the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon called on the Muslim and Arab world to support a new intifada.

Israel itself has hailed the announcement as historic. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “courageous and just decision”, while some 250 Israeli rabbis, including the chief rabbi of the Sephardi Jewish community, signed a letter thanking Mr Trump.

Why does Donald Trump’s announcement matter?

Jerusalem is of huge importance to both Israel and the Palestinians. It contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Israel occupied the eastern sector – previously occupied by Jordan – in 1967, and annexed it in 1980, but the move has never been recognised internationally.

Some 330,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, along with about 200,000 Israeli Jews in a dozen settlements there. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel does not regard them as settlements but legitimate neighbourhoods.

  • What are the alternatives to a two-state solution?
  • Why settlement issue is so difficult

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

The last round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014 and while the US is formulating fresh proposals, Palestinian officials have said Donald Trump’s announcement has disqualified the US from brokering future negotiations.

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