Hamas call for new uprising in reply to Trump's recognition
The Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians yesterday to abandon peace efforts and launch a new uprising against Israel in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank, deploying several new army battalions and putting other forces on standby, describing the measures as part of its “readiness for possible developments.”
Medics said at least 31 people were wounded by Israeli army gunfire when Palestinian protests erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday. They said 11 were hit by live ammunition and 20 by rubber bullets. One person was in a critical condition. Some protesters threw rocks at soldiers and others chanted: “Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!”
Trump reversed decades of US policy on Wednesday by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, imperilling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies alike.
The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada (Palestinian uprising) in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech in Gaza.
He urged Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs to hold rallies against the US decision today, calling it a “day of rage.”
Naser Al-Qidwa, an aide to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior official in his Fatah party, urged Palestinians to stage peaceful protests.
Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital. Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.
Trump announced his administration would begin a process of moving the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step expected to take years, a move his predecessors opted not to take to avoid inflaming tensions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark,” said many countries would follow the US move. “President Trump has immortalized himself in the chronicles of our capital,” he said in a speech at Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
Other close Western allies of Washington, including France and Britain, have been critical of Trump’s move. Pope Francis has called for Jerusalem’s status quo to be respected, while China and Russia have also expressed concern.
The United Nations Security Council is likely to meet today to discuss the US decision, diplomats said.
Haniyeh called on Abbas to withdraw from peacemaking with Israel and on Arabs to boycott the Trump administration. Abbas said on Wednesday the US had abdicated its role as a mediator in peace efforts.
“We have given instruction to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be fully ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger that threatens Jerusalem and threatens Palestine,” Haniyeh said.
“United Jerusalem is Arab and Muslim, and it is the capital of the state of Palestine, all of Palestine,” he said, referring to territory including Israel as well as the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.
The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, believing its status should be resolved in negotiations. No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem.
Trump’s decision fulfils a campaign promise and will please Republican conservatives and evangelicals who make up a large portion of his domestic support. He said his move was not intended to tip the scale in favor of Israel and that any deal involving the future of Jerusalem would have to be negotiated by the parties, but the move was seen almost uniformly in Arab capitals as a sharp tilt towards Israel.
The US is asking Israel to temper its response to the announcement because Washington expects a backlash and is weighing the potential threat to US facilities and people, according to a State Department document.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah lawmakers said the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital constituted aggression against Palestinians and resistance was the only way to recover lost rights. Hezbollah and Israel fought a war in 2006.
Palestinians switched off Christmas lights on trees outside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe Jesus was born, and in Ramallah, next to the burial site of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in protest.