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Protests flare in Mideast after Trump's Jerusalem pronouncement

Samir Zedan and Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Protests erupted throughout the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and cities across the Middle East on Thursday in what was dubbed a "day of rage" after President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump announced Wednesday that he would "officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital," sparking worldwide outrage, including from Washington's closest allies in the region. Some Palestinian leaders called for a new intifada, or uprising, in response to the controversial move.

In the wake of his speech, Palestinian factions called for a general strike on Thursday, while the Palestinian Education Ministry canceled classes so students and teachers could participate in the demonstrations.

Thousands of residents poured into major thoroughfares in Ramallah, Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem as well as East Jerusalem's Damascus Gate. The eastern, Arab-dominated part of Jerusalem was hoped to be the capital of a Palestinian state.

"How can the president of the United States flout international resolutions and ignore the feelings of millions of Arabs and Muslims?" asked Suha Arrar, a 43-year-old employee at the Palestinian Ministry of Health. She added that she had come out to protest "the unprecedented arrogance of the U.S. administration."

Ahmed Ghneim, a leader with the Palestinian faction Fatah, expressed his rejection of the Trump decision, adding that the "honeymoon" between Trump and Netanyahu would not come without costs.

 

"For 30 years, the Palestinian leadership thought the U.S. was the key to the solution," he said. "Trump's decision proved this key is not suitable for any solution."

Mustafa Barghouthi, a Palestinian politician in the West Bank, insisted that Trump's decision "forbids Palestinians from having any contact with the U.S.," which, he said, "has completely lost its role as a broker of the peace process."

"We must now unite behind an uprising that is based on nonviolence as Palestinian protests succeeded in removing the electronic gates at the entrance to the Aqsa Mosque in the summer," Barghouthi said.

Clashes flared between the protesters and Israeli troops, who deployed water cannons and fired what appeared to be rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

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