Trump's Jerusalem move sparks call for new Palestinian uprising
Update: 2017-12-07 16:55 GMT
Jerusalem: US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital sparked a Palestinian general strike and a call for a new intifada on Thursday as fears grew of fresh bloodshed in the region.
The Israeli military deployed hundreds of more troops to the occupied West Bank amid uncertainty over the fallout from Trump's decision.
A mass demonstration was being planned for the West Bank city of Ramallah later. Several thousand marched in the Hamas- run Gaza Strip last night, burning US and Israeli flags while chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
Trump's announcement prompted an almost universal diplomatic backlash that continued on Thursday, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning it would put the region in a "ring of fire".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however lavished praised on Trump, saying his name would now be associated with Jerusalem's long history and urging other countries to follow his lead.
Trump's defiant move — making good on a pledge made during his 2016 presidential campaign -- ends seven decades of US ambiguity on the status of the Holy City, which is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. Trump said this marks the start of a "new approach" to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," he
said in a speech from the White House on Wednesday, urging calm and "the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate."
But immediately the move sparked anger among Palestinians and their supporters.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for a new intifada, or uprising, in a speech in Gaza City. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Trump's move disqualifies the United States from its traditional role as peace broker in the Middle East conflict.
Saudi Arabia called the move "unjustified and irresponsible."
Erdogan asked: "Hey Trump! What do you want to do? "What kind of approach is this? Political leaders do not stir things up, they seek to make peace," he said, addressing the US leader directly in one of his most familiar
Palestinian shops in east Jerusalem, including the Old City, as well as in the West Bank were largely shuttered and schools closed on Thursday after a general strike was called.
"By this decision, America became a very small country, like any small country in the world, like Micronesia," Salah Zuhikeh, 55, told AFP in Jerusalem's Old City.
"America was a great country for us and everyone."
Trump's move left many angry US allies struggling to find a diplomatic response.
Through gritted teeth, Britain described the move as "unhelpful" and France called it "regrettable." Germany said plainly that it "does not support" Trump's decision.
Eight countries including Britain, France and Italy pressed for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in response to the move, which was set for tomorrow.