Muslims rage against US’ Jerusalem decision
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Protests have already taken place in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, and Turkey and hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah.
In several cities and town, angry protesters hurled stones at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Smoke rose over Bethlehem.
Jerusalem is home to major Muslim and Christian shrines, as well as Judaism’s holiest site. The city’s Israeli-annexed eastern sector is sought by the Palestinians as a future capital, while Israel says it won’t relinquish any part of the city.
On Dec. 8, clashes erupted after Palestinians poured out of mosques after midday prayers, the highlight of the Muslim religious week.
Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on Dec. 8 near the Gaza border in the clashes, the Palestinian Health Ministry has said.
The Israeli military said hundreds of Palestinians were rolling burning tires and throwing rocks at soldiers across the border.
Palestinian political groups had called for massive demonstrations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem on Dec. 8.
Separately, the Gaza-based leader of the armed Palestinian resistance group Hamas agitated for a third uprising against Israel by calling for a “day of rage.”
On Dec. 8, all eyes were on east Jerusalem’s Old City, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is Islam’s third holiest shrine and stands on the remnants of Judaism’s holiest site. One of the compound’s outer walls is the holiest site where Jews can pray.
In the past, Israeli authorities often imposed age restrictions, barring younger Muslims from entering the Al Aqsa compound during periods of tensions.
The preacher at Al Aqsa told worshippers that the city will “remain Muslim and Arab.”
“All we want from the Arab and Muslim leaders is action and not statements of denunciation,” Sheikh Yousef Abu Sneineh said to the approximately 27,000 worshippers.
Around 2,000 people later gathered in the plaza around the mosque, chanting: “With our soul and blood, we will defend Al Aqsa and Jerusalem.”
“During the riots IDF soldiers fired selectively towards two main instigators and hits were confirmed,” the army statement said.
In neighboring Jordan, hundreds of protesters in the capital, Amman, chanted “Jerusalem is Arab” and “America is the head of the snake.”
Protests were held across Istanbul, with thousands of pro-Palestine supporters marching after Friday prayers.
Chanting slogans including “Jerusalem is ours and will remain so!” and “down with America, down with Israel,” the protesters marched after Friday prayers at the Ottoman-era Fatih mosque in the center of Istanbul.
At a summit in Paris, the leaders of France and Lebanon warned that the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital threatened stability throughout the region.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “launching an appeal for calm and responsibility.” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the U.S. decision “will further complicate the peace process and pose an additional challenge to the stability of the whole region.”
The European Union’s foreign policy chief also on Dec. 8 sounded the alarm on the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning of its “very worrying potential impact.”
At a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi, Federica Mogherini said: “We were in close contact as always but particularly in these last days during and after the announcement by Mr. Trump on the U.S. decision [on] Jerusalem.
“We both agree that it is a decision that has a very worrying potential impact in this very fragile context.”
“No one can afford any further destabilization, and especially those living in the region... More violence and chaos are absolutely to be avoided, they are in no one’s interest,” she added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Dec. 8 that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the United States runs counter to common sense.
“This announcement runs counter to common sense,” Lavrov told a news conference in Vienna.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Dec. 8 that the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would probably not take place for at least two years.
“This is not something that is going to happen this year or probably not next year but the president does want us to move in a very concrete, very steadfast way,” Tillerson said after talks in Paris with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.