Yesterday, President Trump officially announced his “new approach” to the Israel-Palestine conflict that, which instead of bringing peace to the region like he repeatedly promised during the campaign, appears poised to trigger the most destructive periods of Israeli vs Palestinian violence since 2005.
Early Thursday, the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which recently relinquished absolute administrative control of Gaza but remains incredibly popular in what some have described as “the world’s largest open-air prison”, called for a third intifada – or uprising - against the Israelis to protest Trump’s violation of the “Status Quo”.
For nearly three centuries, the three major Abrahamic religions had an understanding that the nine Holy Sites in and around Jerusalem are subject to a policy of de facto neutrality. But by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – and promising to legitimize that declaration by moving the US embassy – Trump has upset this order. The Israelis have long claimed all of Jerusalem as their capital, while Palestinians hope to claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Speaking in Gaza on Thursday, Hamas' leader Ismail Haniyeh said, "We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy." He also said, "We want the uprising to last and continue to let Trump and the occupation regret this decision,” according to DW, Germany’s public broadcaster.
Hamas' leader Ismail Haniyeh
Hamas also took to Twitter to decry Trump’s decision as a declaration of war. In a stream of Tweets, the party – which is considered a terrorist organization by the US – shared photos of young Palestinians, who have been the main participants in the last two intifadas, protesting the US decision. It also urges Palestinians to rise up.
Despite the rainy day Palestinians marched in streets supporting Alquds and refusing the US decision. pic.twitter.com/l5zzcmHm4y— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 6, 2017
Asks Palestinians for calmness and to seek peace. No peace under occupation. We will go on our way till liberating the whole Palestine. pic.twitter.com/URtzixlCYo— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 6, 2017
It is Muslims and Arabs turn all over the world to make peace by dismissing the Israeli occupation from Palestine.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 6, 2017
UN General Secretary: US decision threatens peace.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 6, 2017
Alquds is the capital of Palestine.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 6, 2017
Palestinians who decide not Trump.
Haniya: PA should get out of Oslo accords.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 7, 2017
Haniya: Palestinians should sit together to decide for Palestinian priority.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 7, 2017
Haniya: Palestinians should start a public uprising especially from Alquds.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 7, 2017
Haniya: Palestinians should stop security cooperation with Israeli occupation in West Bank.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 7, 2017
Haniya:The Arab nation should stand united against the US decision.— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) December 7, 2017
In a fiery speech, Haniyeh described Trump’s decision as a declaration of war and called on all Arab nations to join in Palestine’s resistance efforts. He also asked that Palestinians in the West Bank end security cooperation with Israel. Finally, he said the Palestinian authority should withdraw from the Oslo Accord, a Clinton-era agreement whereby Palestinians recognized Israel as a state, and Israel recognized the Palestinian peoples’ “right to self-determination.
Already, instances of violence have erupted as the Palestinian Authority called a general strike in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and schools and shops in these areas remain closed as Palestinians continue protesting against the US’ policy change. Hundreds took to the streets on Wednesday, burning American and Israeli flags and 10 Palestinians were arrested in East Jerusalem overnight after Molotov cocktails were thrown.
As DW pointed out, the US decision was met with worldwide condemnation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the latest head of state to publicly criticize Trump’s decision. He described Trump's actions throwing the Middle East into a "ring of fire.
Saudi Arabia's royal court made a rare public rebuke of the US on Thursday, saying Trump’s announcement was "unjustified and irresponsible." The US' move puts the Sunni nation in a difficult position, because the kingdom has had close ties to Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Iraq's senior shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said Trump's announcement had "hurt the feelings of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims,'' He called on the "Umma," or Islamic nation, to combine forces to restore Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem — no matter how long it takes.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, leader of the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, said on Thursday, "Such unilateral recognition violates various resolutions of the UN Security Council of which the United States is a permanent member. It could also shake global stability."
Eight members of the UN Security Council, including Germany, Britain, France, Egypt, Italy and Sweden have called for an emergency meeting to discuss the US's move, which will be held on Friday.
Speaking at Israel’s foreign ministry on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unsurprisingly praised Trump’s decision. "President Trump bound himself forever with the history of our capital," he said. "His name will now be proudly displayed alongside other names in the city's glorious history."
Netanyahu also claimed that Israel is in contact with other countries that plan to follow in the US’s footsteps, though he did not name any. "We are already in contact with other countries that will recognize similar recognition, and I have no doubt that as soon as the American embassy moves to Jerusalem, and before that, many embassies will move to Jerusalem."
So far, the only country to join the US in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders claimed that Trump’s decision rendered a two-state solution impossible.
The secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, said that Trump had destroyed all hope for a peace deal. "He destroyed the two-state solution." Meanwhile, Hamas has said that Trump's decision will "open the gates of hell" on US interests in the region.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has described Trump’s announcement as "reprehensible." He said that it will undermine peace efforts and embolden Israel "to pursue the policy of occupation, settlement, apartheid and ethnic cleansing."
Abbas is traveling to Jordan on Thursday to meet with King Abdullah II, who is seen as the Palestinians closest Arab ally. There is speculation that the two leaders may try to coordinate a response to Trump’s announcement.