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After Jerusalem, West Bank; anti-Trump protests flare in Beirut

JERUSALEM: After anti-Trump protests waned in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip on Sunday the protests flared near the US embassy in Beirut over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Four days of protests in the Palestinian territories over Trump’s announcement on Wednesday had largely died down, but his overturning of long-standing US policy on Jerusalem — a city holy Muslims — drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.

“Our hope is that everything is calming down and that we are returning to a path of normal life without riots and without violence,” Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Army Radio.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, said the situation threatens to stoke violence.

Read More: Arab states urge U.S. to abandon Jerusalem move

“The US move could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground in the region,” he said.

In Beirut, meanwhile, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water canons at protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, near the US embassy.

Demonstrators set fires in the street, torched US and Israeli flags and threw projectiles toward security forces that had barricaded the main road to the complex.

Along Israel’s tense frontier with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military on Sunday destroyed what it described as a “significant” cross-border attack tunnel dug by the enclave’s dominant group, Hamas.

There was no immediate comment on the demolition, which came as Palestinian factions tried to meet Sunday’s deadline for an Egyptian-mediated handover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas after a decade’s schism.

Pre-dawn Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday killed two Palestinian civilians after alleged militants reportedly fired rockets from the area into Israel on Friday.


In the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Sunday, thousands protested outside the U.S. embassy, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Leaders in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, have joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s announcement, including from Western allies.

Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the United States to abandon its decision and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.

Israel says that all of Jerusalem is its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory and say the status of the city should be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Read More: Thousands of Indonesians again protest Trump’s Jerusalem move

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to critics in a statement before talks in Paris on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron, to be followed by a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels.

“I hear (from Europe) voices of condemnation over President Trump’s historic announcement, but I have not heard any condemnation for the rocket firing against Israel that has come (after the announcement) and the awful incitement against us,” Netanyahu said.

The Trump administration has said it is still committed to reviving Palestinian-Israeli talks that collapsed in 2014.

It said Israel’s capital would be in Jerusalem under any serious peace plan, adding that it has not taken a position with regard to the city’s borders.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has said the Palestinians will be looking for a new peace talks broker instead of the United States and would seek a United Nations Security Council resolution over Trump’s decision.


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