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Jerusalem: Israel braced for protests over Trump declaration

Jerusalem: Israel braced for protests over Trump declaration

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.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US becomes 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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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.

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.

In Malaysia, hundreds of protesters rallied in front of the US embassy, burning an effigy of the US president, while similar numbers protested outside the US embassy in 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.

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.

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The eastern sector has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. Israel annexed the city in 1980, but the move has never been recognised internationally.

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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Source: BBC News

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