Palestinians seethed with anger and a sense of betrayal over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise the disputed city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Many heard the death knell for the long-moribund US-sponsored talks aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
They also said more violence could erupt.
“Trump wants to help Israel take over the entire city. Some people may do nothing, but others are ready to fight for Jerusalem,” said Hamad Abu Sbeih, 28, an unemployed resident of the walled Old City.
“This decision will ignite a fire in the region. Pressure leads to explosions,” he said.
Jerusalem — specifically its eastern Old City — is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians want it to be the capital of a future independent state and resolution of its status is fundamental to any peace-making.
“This is insane. You are speaking about something fateful. Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine and neither the world nor our people will accept it,” said Samir al-Asmar, 58, a merchant from the Old City.
“It will not change what Jerusalem is. Jerusalem will remain Arab. Such a decision will sabotage things and people will not accept it.”
Palestinian newspapers also decried the move. “Trump Defies the World,” thundered Al-Ayyam. Another, Al-Hayat, roared “Jerusalem is the Symbol of Palestinian Endurance” in a red-letter headline over an image of the city’s mosque compound flanked by Palestinian flags.
Palestinian leaders have also warned the move could have dangerous consequences.
Israeli security forces braced for possible unrest but police said the situation in Jerusalem was calm for now.
That could quickly change, given the religious passions that swirl around the Old City.
Palestinians mounted two uprisings, or intifadas, against Israeli occupation from 1987 to 1993 then from 2000 to 2005, the latter ignited by a visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the shrine area.
Violent confrontations also took place in July when Israel installed metal detectors at an entrance to Al-Aqsa compound after gunmen holed up there killed two of its policemen.
Four Palestinians and three Israelis died in ensuing violence.
In the Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza, demonstrators chanted “Death to America”, “Death to Israel” and “Down with Trump”. They also burned posters depicting the US, British and Israeli flags.
Youssef Mohamed, a 70-year-old resident of a refugee camp, said Trump’s move would be a test for Arab leadership at a time of regional chaos and shifting alliances.
The Jerusalem uproar could affect Egyptian-brokered efforts to bring Gaza, which has been under Hamas control for a decade, back under the authority of US-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Trump’s move showed the United States was biased.
“The United States was never a neutral mediator in any cause of our people. It has always stood with the occupation (Israel),” he said.
He said Abbas’ administration should “rid itself of the illusion that rights can be achieved through an American-backed deal”.
Palestinians react during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday.
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