Hamas calls for Palestinian uprising over Jerusalem

Updated / Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 21:24

Protesters in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

The Islamist group Hamas has urged Palestinians 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.

Palestinian factions called for a "Day of Rage" tomorrow following a wave of protest in the West Bank and Gaza brought clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops. 

Lebanon's Hezbollah group joined the calls for a new Palestinian uprising, after at least 31 people were wounded by Israeli army gunfire, according to medics, when protests erupted.

In the West Bank four protesters were hit by live fire, and another 20 by rubber bullets.

 A military spokeswoman said soldiers had used "riot-dispersal gear" against hundreds of rock-throwers.

Seven protesters were wounded by live fire in Gaza, one of whom is in a critical condition, medics have said. Protesters had gathered near the border fence with Israel and threw rocks at soldiers on the other side.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

The Israeli military said late two rockets had been fired toward Israel from Gaza, but did not cross into Israeli territory.

A Jihadist Salafi group in Gaza called the Al-Tawheed Brigades - which does not heed the call from Hamas to desist from firing rockets - claimed responsibility for the launches.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya has called for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising, after Mr Trump's declaration.

"This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada," the head of the armed Palestinian Islamist movement that runs Gaza said in a speech.

Worried that the recrimination could disrupt reconciliation efforts, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah and other Fatah delegates arrived in Gaza to meet Hamas.

In cities inside Gaza, thousands of Palestinians rallied, some chanting: "Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!" and burning tyres.

The Israeli military said it was deploying reinforcements to the occupied West Bank.

"Upon the conclusion of the general staff's situation assessment, it was decided that a number of battalions will reinforce in the area of (the West Bank), as well as combat intelligence and territorial defence," the military said in a statement.

"In addition, more standby forces were defined, as part of the (military's) readiness to possible developments."

Thousands of Tunisians protested in several cities against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the decision to move the US Embassy there.

Unions and other groups have called for even bigger protests in the capital Tunis and other cities in the country after Friday prayers.

Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemning the US decision, saying it undermined Palestinian rights, officials said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "not helpful" and that the world would like to see some serious announcements from President Donald Trump on how to resolve Middle Eastern issues.

Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East have condemned the decision as an incendiary move and Palestinians said Washington was abandoning its leading role as a peace mediator.

The European Union and United Nations also voiced alarm at Mr Trump's decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to debate President Trump's decision.

Eight of the council's 15 members called for the meeting. 

Major US allies came out against Mr Trump's reversal of decades of US and broad international policy on Jerusalem.

France rejected the "unilateral" decision while appealing for calm in the region.

Britain said the move would not help peace efforts and Jerusalem should ultimately be shared by Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Germany said Jerusalem's status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution.

Israel, by contrast, applauded Mr Trump's move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lavished praise on Mr Trump, saying "President Trump bound himself forever with the history of our capital. 

"His name will now be proudly displayed alongside other names in the city's glorious history."

Earlier, Mr Netanyahu had said in a pre-recorded video message that the decision was "an important step towards peace" and it was "our goal from Israel's first day".

He added that any peace accord with the Palestinians would have to include Jerusalem as Israel's capital and he urged other countries to follow Mr Trump's example.

Mr Trump upended decades of US policy in defiance of warnings from around the world that the gesture risks aggravating conflict in the Middle East.

The status of Jerusalem is home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths.

Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

Israel deems Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital dating to antiquity, and its status is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a pre-recorded speech, said Jerusalem was the "eternal capital of the State of Palestine" and that Mr Trump's move was "tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator."

The last round of US-brokered talks foundered in 2014 over issues including Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and Israeli accusations of Palestinian incitement to violence and refusal to recognise it as a Jewish state.

Palestinians switched off Christmas lights Bethlehem and in Ramallah and all Palestinian factions called for a general strike and protest rallies today.

British Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed with Mr Trump's embrace of Jerusalem as Israel's capital before a final-status agreement as this was unlikely to help nurture peace in the region, her spokesman said.

However, Mrs May's spokesman welcomed Trump's stated wish to end the conflict and his acknowledgement that the final status of Jerusalem, including boundaries within the city, must be subject to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not support Trump's "unilateral" move.

"The status of Jerusalem is a question of international security that concerns the entire international community. The status of Jerusalem must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in the framework of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations," Mr Macron told reporters in Algiers.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was no alternative to a two-state solution and Jerusalem was a final-status matter only to be settled through direct talks.

"I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians," Mr Guterres said.

"I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations."