Posted by News Express | 8 December 2017 | 1,629 times
Israeli police fired tear gas at Palestinian protesters in Bethlehem Friday as the “Day of Rage” called for by Palestinian factions got underway.
Israeli police have called in extra security forces for Jerusalem following U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the U.S. plans to move its embassy there.
In the past, Israel has imposed age restrictions at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound where violence often erupts during tense times. Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said, “We have no indication there will be disturbances on the mount therefore there is no age restriction. If there will be disturbances then we will respond immediately.”
The site is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. It is the holiest Jewish site and the third holiest in Islam.
Protests are being held Friday across the Middle East and in Muslim-majority countries.
Thousands rallied Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, in front of the U.S. embassy. Some demonstrators carried signs saying “Hands off Jerusalem” and “Down with President Trump”.
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, the capital. They chanted “Trump is mad”, “Death to Trump”, and “Death to the U.S.”
The Islamist group Hamas, meanwhile, has called for an uprising against Israel.
Trump’s announcement defies decades of diplomacy in the quest to bring peace to Israel. Jerusalem has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the quest and it was widely believed that a solution would be hammered in the peace process negotiations.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital. The Palestinians want the eastern part of Jerusalem for its capital of a future independent state.
The White House on Thursday denied that the president’s announcement on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem means his administration is pulling out of the Middle East peace process.
“In fact, in the president’s remarks, he said that we are as committed to the peace process as ever, and we want to continue to push forward in those conversations and those discussions,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. “And hopefully the ultimate goal, I think, of all those parties is to reach a peace deal. And that’s something that the United States is very much committed to.”
No other country has immediately followed President Trump’s lead in planning to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something the White House has acknowledged.
“I'm not aware of any countries that we anticipate that happening at any point soon,” said Huckabee Sanders. “I’m not saying that they aren’t, but I'm not aware of them.”
The Russian ambassador in Israel, Alexander Shein, said Moscow could move its embassy to West Jerusalem “after the Palestinians and the Israelis agree on all issues of the final status of the Palestinian territories.”
The Russian foreign ministry, in a statement viewed as a surprise by Israelis, said it considers “East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Trump, on Wednesday, said he was directing the State Department to immediately begin drawing up architectural plans for a U.S. embassy in the holy city. But the actual relocation of the U.S. embassy, however, would take years, according to White House officials.
Both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expressed concern about the timing of Trump’s announcement, according to U.S. officials.
Asked by VOA whether the president’s declaration had been delayed at the request of the two Cabinet members in order to put into place adequate security at U.S. embassies, Huckabee Sanders replied the decision was made only after “a thoughtful and responsible process” and that “components of the decision went through the full inter-agency process.”
Palestinian officials say Trump’s decision has disqualified the U.S. as an honest broker in the peace process.
Many U.S. allies are also disagreeing with the move. The United Nations Security Council and the Arab League plan to meet soon to discuss the action.
Tillerson defended the decision on a visit to Vienna.
“All of Israel’s government offices are largely in Jerusalem already so the U.S. is just recognising the reality of that,” the secretary of state said. “I think it’s important though in the context of those remarks the president also said the U.S. would support a two-state solution if that is the desire of the two parties and he also said this does not in any way finalise the status of Jerusalem.”
The Russian foreign minister, with whom Tillerson met Thursday in Vienna, warned that if Washington prematurely moves its embassy to Jerusalem it could endanger the two-state solution.
“We have asked them to explain the meaning of the decisions on eventually moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Sergei Lavrov told reporters. “We have asked to explain what consequences of this move the Americans see for the efforts taken under the U.N. aegis and by the Quartet of international mediators.” (VOA)
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