Fresh protests flare across world over Trump’s move

Published December 11, 2017
BEIRUT: Protesters wave Palestinian flags during a demonstration on Sunday outside the US embassy in Awkar, on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital, to protest against Washington’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.—AFP
BEIRUT: Protesters wave Palestinian flags during a demonstration on Sunday outside the US embassy in Awkar, on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital, to protest against Washington’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.—AFP

JERUSALEM: Fresh protests flared in the Middle East and elsewhere Sunday over US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that has drawn global condemnation and sparked days of unrest in the Palestinian territories.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly warned of the consequences of Trump’s move, also lashed out on Sunday by calling Israel a “terrorist state” and “state that kills children”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile visited Europe for his first trip abroad since Trump’s declaration, with talks planned with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Trump’s announcement on Wednesday has been followed by days of protests and clashes in the Palestinian territories. Four Palestinians were killed either in clashes or from Israeli air strikes in retaliation for rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

Tens of thousands also protested in Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey, Malaysia, Lebanon, Indonesia and Egypt.

In Lebanon, security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at several hundred demonstrators near the US embassy.

Protesters waving Palestinian and Lebanese flags, and sporting black-and-white checked keffiyeh scarves, chanted slogans against Trump.

Turkish president calls Israel a terrorist state

A correspondent in Awkar on the outskirts of the capital Beirut said several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered near the US embassy, located in the area.

They were blocked from reaching the complex by a metal gate sealing the road leading to the embassy, and security forces fired tear gas and water cannons to repel demonstrators who tried to open the gate by force.

A photographer was lightly wounded in the chest when a member of the Lebanese security forces fired a rubber bullet at him.

He was among several people hurt in the violence, during which protesters also hurled rocks at the Lebanese forces blocking the way to the US embassy.

Protests in Cairo, Jakarta Several people were injured by rocks, tear gas, and rubber bullets, the correspondent said.

In Jakarta, some 5,000 Indonesians protested in solidarity with the Palestinians, gathering outside the US embassy in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

In Cairo, students and professors demonstrated at the prestigious Al-Azhar University, a university spokesman said, with pictures on social media showing several hundred protesters. Dozens of students protested at two other Cairo universities.

A protest and clashes also broke out in Al-Arroub refugee camp in the south of the occupied West Bank, leaving one Palestinian wounded from rubber bullets, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Trump’s declaration has been followed by near universal condemnation and diplomatic fallout, with warnings it risks setting off a new round of violence in the turbulent Middle East.

US Vice President Mike Pence is due to visit the region later this month, but Palestinian officials say President Mahmud Abbas will refuse to meet him.

Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II cancelled a meeting with Pence as well, saying Trump’s announcement had failed to take into account the “feelings of millions” of Arabs.

Arab League foreign ministers on Saturday called on the United States to rescind the move.

Trump’s decision on Wednesday upended decades of US diplomacy and broke with international consensus.

It drew criticism from every other UN Security Council member at an emergency meeting on Friday.

Clashes in the West Bank and along the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel have seen Palestinians burning tyres while hurling stones and firebombs at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds.

Retaliatory Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip in response to rockets killed two Hamas militants on Saturday while two others died near the border fence the day before.

Palestinian health officials say more than 1,100 people were wounded from tear gas, rubber bullets, live fire and other means from Thursday to Saturday.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2017

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