Palestinians mount new protests after Trump recognition of Jerusalem as new Israeli capital

Published: 08 December 2017

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Fresh protests have erupted in the West Bank as Islamist group Hamas called for a “day of rage” in response to US President Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on Thursday, with thousands of demonstrators chanting slogans such as: “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine.”

At least 31 people were injured by Israeli gunfire and rubber bullets, according to medics.

Larger demonstrations are expected Friday, as crowds leave mosques after the weekly noon prayers.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada [Palestinian uprising] in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said.

“We have given instruction to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be full ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger that threatens Jerusalem and threatens Palestine.”

Israeli authorities said three rockets were launched at Israel by a jihadist group in Gaza separate to Hamas, and in response bolstered their numbers in the occupied West Bank.

The unrest follows US President Donald Trump’s reversal of decades of US policy on Wednesday by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The status of Jerusalem, home to holy sites in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, is internationally regarded as disputed territory crucial to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel considers the city to be its ‘eternal and indivisible’ capital. Palestinians want the capital of their own independent state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed.

No other country besides the US has an embassy in Jerusalem, or recognises it to be Israel’s capital.

Mr Trump’s decision has emboldened Israeli authorities, with Housing Minister Yoav Gallant planning to construct up to 6,000 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem.

“Following President Trump’s historic declaration, I intend to promote and reinforce building in Jerusalem,” he said.

The UN has condemned all Israeli settlements on territory it seized in 1967, saying last year that the “cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark” and said many other countries would follow the US’ lead.

But the EU, France, the UK, and Pope Francis II have been critical of Trump’s decision, calling for the status quo to be respected.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia would "not be taking steps" to move our Australian embassy to Jerusalem, and re-affirmed support for a two-state solution.