A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at Jerusalem’s main bus station yesterday, police said, and violence flared near the US embassy in Beirut over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Four days of street protests in the Palestinian territories over Trump’s announcement on Wednesday have largely died down, but his overturning of long-standing US policy on Jerusalem, drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.
“Our hope is that everything is calming down and that we are returning to a path of normal life without riots and without violence,” Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Army Radio.
But in Jerusalem, a security guard was in critical condition after a 24-year-old Palestinian man from the occupied West Bank stabbed him after approaching a metal detector at an entrance to the city’s central bus station, police said.
The alleged assailant was taken into custody after a passer-by tackled him.
In public remarks yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a frequent critic of Israel, called it an “invader state” and a “terror state”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a news conference in Paris alongside French President Emmanuel Macron after the two leaders met.
Macron told Netanyahu that he needed to make gestures to the Palestinians to break the impasse between the two sides.
“I asked Prime Minister Netanyuhu to make some courageous gestures towards the Palestinians to get out of the current impasse,” Macron said, suggesting that a freeze of construction in settlements could be a first step.
Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory and say the status of the city should be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.
The Trump administration has said it is still committed to reviving Palestinian-Israeli talks that collapsed in 2014, but jettisoning old policies is necessary to break the deadlock.
Washington says it has not taken a position on Jerusalem’s final status or borders, but it is sensible to recognise that any future peace deal will have Israel’s capital in the city.
The United States was “as committed to the peace process as we’ve ever been”, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said yesterday.
Trump “didn’t talk about boundaries, he didn’t talk about borders...Because the final status of Jerusalem is between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It’s not for the Americans to decide.”
In Beirut, Lebanese security forces fired teargas and water cannons at protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, near the US embassy.
Demonstrators set fires in the street, torched US and Israeli flags and threw projectiles towards security forces that had barricaded the main road to the complex. In the Moroccan capital, Rabat, tens of thousands of protesters marched down the city’s main thoroughfare chanting slogans including, “The people want to liberate Palestine” and “Death to Israel, enemy of the people and provoker of wars.”
Waving Palestinian flags and holding up pictures of Jerusalem, they expressed anger at they “betrayal” by Arab governments perceived to have backed Trump’s move.
In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, thousands protested outside the US embassy, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has said the Palestinians will be looking for a new peace talks broker instead of the United States and would seek a United Nations Security Council resolution over Trump’s decision.
Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the United States to abandon its decision on Jerusalem and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.
Echoing that view, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, said the US move “could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground” in the Middle East.
Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Awkar, on the outskirts of Beirut, yesterday.
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