Posts Tagged ‘al-Aqsa Mosque’

US peace envoy blasts Abbas for failure to mention Jerusalem’s Jewish connection — Trump: “Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

February 8, 2018

Times of Israel

Jason Greenblatt says denying ‘Judaism’s thousands of years of ties’ to the city isn’t conducive to lasting peace

February 7, 2018
US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

American Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt on Thursday slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for failing to mention Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem in a speech this week.

Speaking at the Jerusalem Capital of Muslim Youth 2018 festival in Ramallah on Tuesday, Abbas repeatedly emphasized that Jerusalem was a city for Muslims and Christians, without mentioning any of the city’s extensive Jewish history.

“Pres. Abbas states about Jerusalem: ‘it is Arab, Muslim, and Christian.’ And makes no mention of any Jewish ties. Nothing peaceful or productive can come from statements like this,” Greenblatt said in a series of tweets.

“Lasting peace will not be achieved by denying Judaism’s thousands of years of ties to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews,” the US envoy added, recalling President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of the city as Israel’s capital.

Peace can ONLY be based on truth, and what @POTUS said is the truth: “Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.” (3/3)

In announcing his decision, Trump also declared he’d move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move angered the Palestinian leadership, which declared that Washington could no longer fill the decisive role in the peace process it has held for over two decades.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In the many speeches Abbas has given about Jerusalem since Trump’s controversial decision, he has usually emphasized the Muslim and Christian connection to the holy city, while at the same time promising that should Jerusalem come under Palestinian control, it would be open to freedom of worship for all religions, including for Jews.

On Tuesday, however, he left out his oft-repeated promise to allow Jews to pray in a Palestinian-controlled Jerusalem.

“This land is an Islamic and Christian land, by all standards. Jerusalem is the eternal Palestinian capital of Muslim youths; it is also the capital of Christian youths,” said the PA president.

Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (C) attends the “Jerusalem Conference as the Capital of the Islamic Youth” in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 6, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

The Palestinian population is largely Muslim but also has a sizable Christian minority.

Greenblatt has come under fire from PA officials, who called him an “American Zionist” for his defense of the US Jerusalem policy as well as his own criticism of the PA for boycotting US efforts to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“Greenblatt does not care about the Palestinians’ opinion,” the PA foreign ministry said on Monday. “His remarks show that he does not believe that the Palestinians are party to the political process.”

Referring to the Trump administration’s peace plan, whose details have yet to be announced, the PA ministry claimed that it bypasses the Palestinians.

“If Greenblatt wants to open channels between Israel and some Arab countries, while excluding the Palestinians, we emphasize that no one in the region would dare to accept such an American plan that drops the Palestinian dimension or gives up Jerusalem,” it said. “For this reason, we believe that the plan of Greenblatt and his Zionist group is doomed to failure.”

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.


Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque: Saudi state news agency

January 30, 2018

A general view of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City in Al-Aqsa mosque compound. (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP)
DUBAI: Groups of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem early Tuesday morning, Saudi Arabian state news agency reported citing a Palestinian source.
The General Director of the Islamic Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Affairs, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, said today’s raid by the Jewish settlers was carried through Al-Magharebah Gate and under heavy protection of Israeli special forces and police.
Al-Khatib added that the settlers toured the Al-Aqsa yards in provocation.

A year of Palestinian resistance

December 23, 2017

An Israeli border guard is confronted by a Palestinian protester during clashes north of Ramallah. (AFP)

AMMAN: The year 2017 can best be described by Palestinians as one of protest and rejection of Israeli occupation, especially in Jerusalem. Protests included prisoners going on hunger strike, diplomats succeeding in listing Hebron’s Old City as a UNESCO world heritage site, and defending the right to pray unhindered in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. This year also saw Palestinian reconciliation efforts that made important headway in the Gaza Strip.

As Donald Trump was sworn in as US president, some hoped his campaign promise of an “ultimate deal” would be implemented, but that hope was quickly dashed. In one of his most infamous statements, he told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he does not have any position on how the conflict should be resolved. “One state, two states, I don’t care. I’ll accept whatever the parties accept,” Trump said.
While US envoys — mostly Jewish Zionists supportive of Israel’s settlement enterprise — made the rounds with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, it became clear they would not be honest brokers. Having lost hope in a US-led political process, Palestinians continued their resistance.
Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti led a hunger strike campaign from inside his jail cell, in the hope of improving prison conditions. After a 41-day hunger strike that was supported throughout Palestine and beyond, Palestinians declared victory on May 26. Second monthly visits were allowed, and family members were allowed at certain times to physically touch their loved ones. Throughout the second half of 2017, photos of prisoners hugging their loved ones appeared on social media.
Palestinian resistance was also able to make accomplishments internationally. In July, UNESCO declared Hebron’s Old City and Ibrahimi Mosque a world heritage site, angering Israel’s government and Jewish settlers living illegally in the city center.
During the summer, Israeli police restricted entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, by placing metal detectors at the entrance of its gates. Palestinian worshippers reacted by praying outside the mosque; the detectors were removed 11 days later.
After a decade-long feud, a reconciliation deal was signed by Hamas and Fatah in September. Under the Egypt-sponsored plan, Hamas would dissolve its administrative committee and allow the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern Gaza, and presidential and parliamentary elections are to take place.
On Dec. 6, Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and his intention to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This has caused an international crisis and protests worldwide, and led to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying he no longer accepts the US as a mediator and refusing to meet American officials.
On Dec. 21, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution against the US move by 128 to nine, with 35 abstentions.
On Dec. 18, the US vetoed a similar resolution in the UN Security Council that was supported by the other 14 members.

Top five Palestinian events in 2017

Thousands of Palestinians go on hunger strike in Israeli jails (April and May)

UNESCO declares Hebron’s Old City a world heritage site (July)

Protests in Jerusalem against metal detectors placed outside Al-Aqsa Mosque (August)

Hamas accepts Fatah conditions for reconciliation (September)

UN General Assembly rejects US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (December)


After UN General Assembly Supported Palestinians, Hamas Leaders Called For ‘Red Bloody Day’ in West Bank

December 22, 2017

Continuing its protest of Trump’s Jerusalem recognition, and fearing that riots may quiet down, terror group’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar offers detailed instructions for violence

  • Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar addresses followers in the Gaza Strip in a televised speech, December 21, 2017. (Screen capture: Al-Aqsa Television)
    Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar addresses followers in the Gaza Strip in a televised speech, December 21, 2017. (Screen capture: Al-Aqsa Television)
  • Muslim worshipers hold a portrait of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following Friday noon prayer in Jerusalem's Old City's al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
    Muslim worshipers hold a portrait of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following Friday noon prayer in Jerusalem’s Old City’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
  • Muslim worshipers hold Palestinian and Turkish flags following Friday noon prayer in Jerusalem's Old City's al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
    Muslim worshipers hold Palestinian and Turkish flags following Friday noon prayer in Jerusalem’s Old City’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
  • Israeli security forces stand guard in Jerusalem's Old City on December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
    Israeli security forces stand guard in Jerusalem’s Old City on December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
  • Muslim worshippers perform Friday noon prayer near the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem's Old City's al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
    Muslim worshippers perform Friday noon prayer near the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem’s Old City’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
  • Muslim worshippers walk in Jerusalem's Old City's al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount before Friday's noon prayers, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
    Muslim worshippers walk in Jerusalem’s Old City’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount before Friday’s noon prayers, December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, in a rare televised address on Thursday, called for Friday to be a “red bloody day,” following the day’s United Nations vote against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Sinwar called on “the people of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Palestinians everywhere, to spring into action on Friday so it will be a red bloody day for the occupation,” he said in the speech, broadcast on Al-Aqsa Television.

“I call for turning Friday into a decisive day in the struggle of our people to bring down the decision of Trump,” he added, speaking before a crowd of Gazan youth.

Amid fears in the terror group’s ranks that violent Palestinian protests against Trump’s December 6 announcement were fading, Sinwar gave specific instructions to would-be attackers in an explicit bid to fan the flames in the West Bank.

He urged Palestinians in the West Bank to head towards places of contact with IDF forces and to attack the soldiers. He also urged attacked against Israeli civilians living in the West Bank.

On Friday morning the terror group amplified Sinwar’s instructions, telling supporters to head out to protests and rallies after Friday morning prayers. The organization specifically called on Palestinians in Bethlehem to gather “near the northern entrance of Bethlehem, and march towards the points of contact with the occupation,” which would bring the protesters to the checkpoints leading to Jerusalem.

And in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, it called for people to join a march “which will begin after Friday prayers in front of the new mosque.”

Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, seeks to destroy Israel. It has been urging a new intifada since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, and has encouraged thousands of Gazans to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza border fence, where there have been several fatalities in recent weeks.

Trump’s announcement earlier this month was followed by violent Palestinian protests in the West Bank and Gaza, but the protests subsided considerably after the first week, and Israeli officials believe there is little likelihood of a full-fledged wave of violence developing.

Sinwar also rejected the proposed US framework for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians — though the Trump administration has yet to make such a framework public. He said that the deal would end the Palestinian struggle, and that the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the first step of the deal.

A week ago Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for every Friday henceforth to be a day of rage across Palestinian, Arab and Muslim lands until Trump rescinds his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In his speech directed to Gaza’s young men, Sinwar also admitted that the Palestinian reconciliation process is failing over a dispute about the future of the terror group’s weapons.

“Whoever doesn’t see that reconciliation is collapsing is blind,” said Sinwar.

“Some people want reconciliation on Israeli and American terms, which means handing over weapons and the tunnels and rocket capabilities,” he added.

An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for the terror group to fully transfer power in the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, though that was later pushed back to December 10.

Masked operatives from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, a military wing of the Hamas terror group, ride vehicles as they commemorate the 30th anniversary of their group, in Gaza City, December 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

In Gaza, the situation has remained essentially unchanged despite the deadline, with Hamas police still patrolling the streets, while crippling electricity shortages endure.

Hamas claimed earlier in December that it had handed over control of all government ministries, but Fatah’s top negotiator later said “obstacles” remained.

Since the start of this reconciliation process between rival Palestinian factions — several others have failed in the past — the question over the fate of Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing has been a thorny issue between the sides.

Hamas’s new deputy leader Salah al-Arouri (seated L) and Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad (seated R) sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements work to end their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Abbas wants the PA to be in full control of all weapons and security in the Gaza Strip, but Hamas is refusing to give up its arsenal. Hamas, which seeks the destruction of Israel, has fought three wars with Israel since seizing power from Fatah in the enclave in 2007.

Abbas has also not yet lifted sanctions against Hamas, including cutting payments for electricity, further worsening an already severe power shortage in Gaza.

Both sides still publicly say they remain committed to the reconciliation.

AFP contributed to this report.


Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Advances Two-State Solution

December 16, 2017

By Alon Ben-Meir


An Israeli Border Policeman is seen next to burning tires during a clash with Palestinian rioters near Ramallah, Dec. 9, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.

I was in Israel when President Donald Trump made his announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Initially, I thought that Israelis would pour out into the streets celebrating this “historic” moment — but other than small chatter here and there, and some expressions of jubilation, not much else gripped the nation.

On the Palestinian side, relatively small demonstrations broke out in the West Bank and Gaza, which continued in the following days with limited violence. This was joined by condemnation of the US declaration was heard from most Arab and Muslim capitals. That’s pretty much where things stand today.

Perhaps it is too early to draw a definitive conclusion, but based on everything I have seen and heard, not much more is likely to happen. The question that many people are asking is: can anything positive come out of this declaration?

About a year ago, when Trump initially stated his intention to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, I predicted that the move would have major consequences and could well destroy the prospect of a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.


Yes, this would have been the case had Trump’s declaration been phrased in a manner that included East Jerusalem directly or indirectly, and ignored the need for a two-state solution. But this is not what happened. In fact, what he stated clearly implied that East Jerusalem was not part of the equation.

Regardless of how strongly I disagree with Trump’s overall foreign policy, he was correct to state that: “The record is in. After two decades of waiver [to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem] we are no closer to a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Indeed, the final status of Jerusalem never constituted a make-or-break issue in any previous negotiations. Thus, there is no reason to assume that declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital affects East Jerusalem, when in fact everything else he stated — implicitly if not explicitly — was limited to West Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem,” he said, “is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.” All of these institutions are located in West Jerusalem, and none are likely to be relocated to East Jerusalem. The Trump administration made it clear to the Israelis that any such move will not be tolerated, as it would cause undue turmoil that would completely undermine the US’ efforts to advance the peace process.

Trump further noted in his declaration that “Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.” This in no way is any different from what has been on the negotiating table in every set of peace talks since the Oslo Accords. In fact, during the Olmert-Abbas negotiations in 2008, a basic agreement was reached on the future of Jerusalem along these lines, to preserve the unity of the city.

Moreover, it is important to emphasize the fact that nearly 30 years ago, the US leased land in West Jerusalem on which to build the future American embassy. It was not contemplated then and it is not expected now that the US embassy should or would be built in East Jerusalem.

No Israeli government, including the current one led by Netanyahu, has requested to build the American embassy on the eastern side of the city. Thus, the future building of the US embassy in West Jerusalem does not constitute recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem.

From the Trump administration’s perspective, there was nothing in his statement that is contrary to the premise that Jerusalem will still end up the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states. In fact, it may engender a new momentum toward the resumption of peace negotiations, as the Palestinians now realize that the longer they wait, the more ground they are likely to lose. “I’ve judged this course of action,” Trump said, “to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work toward a lasting agreement.”

Further in Trump’s statement, he said: “We are not taking a position of any final status issue, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.” He went on to state that “the United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.” Neither of these assertions contradict in any way similar statements made by previous American administrations. Trump knows that the two-state solution remains the only practical option.

Even though President Abbas criticized Trump for his declaration, and pronounced the US as being biased and no longer an honest broker, the US (especially Congress and most previous administrations) has in fact always been biased in favor of the Israelis. That said, Abbas and all other heads of Arab states know that only the US can exert the kind of pressure on Israel to exact compromises central to reaching an agreement.

In return for Trump’s announcement, Netanyahu quietly conceded not to expand the settlements outside the three blocs along the 1967 borders, and also to engage in confidence-building measures, especially joint economic development projects with the Palestinians.

Abbas may be dismissive of the US’ critical role in negotiations with Israel, but neither he nor his successors can afford to ignore the US’ role in future negotiations and expect a peace agreement with Israel that meets the Palestinians’ basic requirements.

Most Arab states’ criticism of Trump’s declaration, led by Saudi Arabia, was largely muted, not only because they are preoccupied with domestic and regional tensions, but because they understand the real implications of the declaration, which has little or no effect on the reality on the ground and the ultimate framework of a peace accord.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the EU has now an enhanced opportunity to play a significant role to guard the principle of a two-state solution by undertaking significant people-to-people confidence-building measures between Israelis and Palestinians. The EU can, and in fact should, use its financial aid to the Palestinians and its extensive trade with Israel as a lever to effect significant change in the Israeli-Palestinian political climate, which is a prerequisite to substantive and successful peace negotiations.

To be sure, from my perspective, nothing in Trump’s declaration fundamentally changes the principle of a two-state solution as a prerequisite to peaceful and enduring co-existence between Israel and the Palestinians. Those who claim that the two-state solution has all but vanished because of Trump’s recognition of Israel seem to be engaged in illusions.

They have forgotten what the Zionist dream was all about: the creation of a Jewish state imbued with its long historic experiences, culture, religion, and identity, that can be secure and enduring only if it remains a Jewish and democratic state that offers a home with security to any Jew, and remains as such to eternity.

The one-state option defies every principle of the Zionist dream, and no Israeli government, regardless of its political orientation, will settle on anything less than a Jewish state with a sustainable Jewish majority to ensure the national identity of the state. To be sure, the current status quo is simply unsustainable.

Trump’s declaration does not in any way foreclose the Palestinians’ aspiration to establish their own capital in East Jerusalem, while maintaining the unity of Jerusalem as a single city and a microcosm of Israeli-Palestinian peaceful coexistence.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.


Fresh Palestinian protests against Trump Jerusalem decision

December 15, 2017


© AFP / by Joe Dyke | Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem’s Old City

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Thousands of Palestinians took part in fresh protests Friday against Washington’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but a week on there is no sign of a threatened new intifada.US President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement that he would break with decades of American policy and move his embassy to Jerusalem has stirred international condemnation, as well as protests across the Palestinian territories and Arab world.

Four Palestinians have been killed, with more than 1000 wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Protesters have burned American and Israeli flags and trampled on pictures of Trump. But concerns that the decision would lead to a major wave of bloodshed have as yet not materialised.

Protests broke out across the Palestinian territories for the second Friday in a row after the end of weekly Muslim prayers, often a catalyst for clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

In Gaza, the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas had called for another ‘day of rage’ against the decision, with tens of thousands taking to the streets.

Clashes were expected along the border with Israel later Friday.

In the occupied West Bank, a few thousand people gathered in the southern city of Hebron, as well as Nablus in the north, with clashes near the Al-Arroub camp, south of Bethlehem.

In Jerusalem itself, around 30,000 people prayed at the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, the Islamic organisation that administers the site said.

The vast majority left without incident, but small scuffles broke out in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.

For decades global powers have avoided taking an opinion, keeping their embassies in Tel Aviv instead.

Trump declared, however, that he would move the embassy and recognised the city as Israel’s capital.

Amid condemnation from much of the international community, the Palestinians have announced they will no longer view the Americans as mediator in negotiations with the Israelis.

A poll conducted after Trump’s announcement by the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found 45 percent of Palestinians supported a violent popular uprising, up from 35 percent three months prior.

Khalil Shikaki, the center’s director, said the “only possible explanation” for the increase was Trump’s decision.

He said, however, the effectiveness of the Israeli forces and the Palestinian security forces’ ongoing security cooperation with them had ensured the protests in the West Bank remained relatively minor in scale.

While angered by Trump’s declaration, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has not instructed his party Fatah or security forces to cut ties with Israel.

“Hamas is too weak in the West Bank to carry out any serious attacks (and) Fatah does not want to engage in violence,” Shikaki said.

“This is not likely to change any time soon.”

Image result for Ismail Haniya, photos

Ismail Haniya with Iran’s Supreme Leader

“We ask churches, the Pope and our Christian brothers to devote their Sunday prayers to Jerusalem,” he added.

Image result for Ismail Haniya, photos

Ismail Haniya

In Gaza, hermetically sealed off by Israel and Egypt, at least 12 rockets or mortars have been fired from the territory since Trump’s announcement, with Israel hitting at least 10 sites in reply.

But the response has been relatively muted compared to some of the warnings, said Ofer Zalzberg, Israel-based analyst with the International Crisis Group think-tank.

He said the lack of serious blowback to Trump’s announcement had encouraged right wingers in Israel’s government to question whether “maybe other things that people said were impossible are not”.

by Joe Dyke

Iranian Vice-Speaker Urges Muslim States to Cut off Ties with US over Jerusalem Move

December 9, 2017
Iranian Vice-Speaker Urges Muslim States to Cut off Ties with US over Jerusalem Move

TEHRAN (FNA)- Vice-Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Motahhari lambasted Washington for the decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, and asked Islamic states to sever ties with the US in response.

Motahhari, a moderate politician, told FNA on Saturday that the decision by the US President backfires as it has brought Muslim countries closer to each other over the Palestinian issue, and said the move has presented an opportunity to the Muslim world to stand united and strong.

“The least move the Muslim states can make is to summon the US ambassadors for explanations; yet basically, they had better show action and cut off relations with the US,” he said.

The senior MP said the US decision was an arrogant move in line with the Judaization of Jerusalem Al-Quds, “and Muslims are needed to take reciprocal action”.

“Yet, the major point is that the governments, specially those who have (established) ties with the US make a move” in response, Motahhari said.

The US president last Wednesday defied global warnings, and said Washington formally recognizes Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel, and will begin the process of moving its embassy to the occupied city, breaking with decades of American policy despite widespread international opposition.

In anticipation of Trump’s move, 151 members of the UN General Assembly voted last week to adopt a rare resolution that denounced Israel as the “occupying power” of Jerusalem al-Quds, a city that is holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike.

The city has seen heightened tensions since 2015, when the Israeli military introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third holiest site.

Over 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli soldiers ever since.

Trump announced late on Wednesday that he would relocate the US diplomatic mission in Israel, a decision that the US Congress made in 1995 but all of his successors have deferred ever since.

Israel lays claim to the entirety of al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital while Palestinians want its Eastern part as the capital of a future state for themselves.

Palestinian leaders have warned that the potential relocation would fuel strong reaction in the region and deliver a death blow to any prospect of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump’s move which overturns decades of US foreign policy has triggered a fresh wave of unrest in the Middle East.

From Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, Muslims vent fury at Trump’s Jerusalem stance

December 8, 2017

© Fethi Belaid, AFP | A Tunisian protester burns a poster bearing images of the US and Israeli flags during a rally in Tunis on December 8.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-12-08

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the Muslim world on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing their outrage at US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump’s declaration departed from decades of US policy and upended longstanding international assurances that the fate of Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claim as their capital, would be determined in peace negotiations.

The move drew stern criticism from governments across the Middle East and in other Muslim countries, where security was stepped up outside US embassies in anticipation of unrest following Friday prayers.

The expected protests turned violent in the Palestinian territories, where demonstrators staged a “day of rage” and clashed with Israeli security forces.

But the repercussions of Trump’s move were felt far and wide, with protesters from Malaysia to Somalia venting their anger at Washington and expressing their solidarity with the Palestinians.

>> ‘Deplorable and unacceptable’: Trump provokes diplomatic firestorm over JerusalemIn the Egyptian capital of Cairo, a crowd of several hundred gathered at the famed al Azhar mosque and chanted, “Jerusalem is Arab! O Trump, you madman, the Arab people are everywhere!” Egypt is a US ally and has a peace treaty with Israel.

The imam leading the prayers at al Azhar said the US plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem was a “terrorist decision” that proved America’s bias towards Israel.

In Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, hundreds rallied in the capital Amman chanting, “America is the head of the snake.”

The protesters raised posters showing Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site, whose religious guardian is the Jordanian king.


There were larger protests in Tunisia and Lebanon, with more than 5,000 Lebanese and Palestinians marching from a mosque in western Beirut to a nearby cemetery where several Palestinian commanders are buried.

In Iran, which has never recognised Israel and supports anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah, demonstrators burned pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while chanting, “Death to the Devil.”

Iranian media said similar rallies took place in other cities and towns across the country after Friday prayers.

‘Slap in the face for Muslims’

Protests were also reported in several Turkish cities, including a small gathering outside the heavily protected US embassy in Ankara, where police prevented protesters from setting US flags alight.

A much larger crowd, estimated at 3,000, gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district before marching toward a park waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

“What Trump says is empty words and means nothing to us,” said Merve, a young student in the crowd. “Whenever we see the name of Israel on a map, we cross it out and write Palestine,” she added.

Protesters step on a poster of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 8, 2017. © Ozan Kose, AFP

Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan organised rallies in Islamabad and other cities, with some protesters torching effigies of the US president. Protests took place in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest, as well as Multan and Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province.

Islamist leaders addressed the crowds and urged Muslim countries to cut diplomatic ties with Washington to pressure Trump to reconsider his decision.

There was further unrest in neighbouring India, where protesters burned US and Israeli flags at rallies in restive Kashmir province.

Anti-American sentiment also ran high at a rally in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where a crowd of several hundred shouted, “Trump, down!”

More protests were reported in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, and in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, where more than 1,000 people rallied outside the US embassy.

“This insensitive action will inflame the hearts of Muslims worldwide,” said Mohamad Rasul, a 51-year-old train driver in the Malaysian capital, describing Trump’s move as a “slap in the face for Muslims”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Hundreds demonstrate in Israeli Arab town against Jerusalem recognition — “Let us die as martyrs — there is no place for the State of Israel.”

December 8, 2017

Protesters march in Umm al-Fahm, carrying signs reading ‘Al-Quds is the capital of Palestine’; Arab MK: US now at forefront of opposition to peace

Protesters in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, file (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Protesters in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, file (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Thousands of Israeli Arabs in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm protested on Friday against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

At an event organized by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, protesters carried signs reading “Al-Quds is the capital of Palestine,” and “Down with Trump.”

MK Yousef Jabarin of the Joint (Arab) List said the US pivot on Jerusalem amounted to spitting in the face of the international community: “We never had expectations from the US, but Trump this week placed his country at the forefront of those working against the entire world’s peace efforts.”

Meanwhile, an estimated 3,000 Palestinian protesters held demonstrations and clashed with Israeli security forces at some 30 locations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday after midday prayers.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabarin attends a Knesset committee meeting on December 22, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Palestinian officials said one demonstrator was killed at the Gaza border fence. At one point the Gaza health ministry said another man was killed, but later retracted the statement, saying he was in serious condition.

The Israeli army said it fired on two “inciters” at the fence. It said there was six points along the fence where protesters gathered and burned tires. The Red Cross in Gaza reported that 15 people were injured by tear gas and rubber bullets.

Palestinian officials reported over 200 people injured in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the vast majority of them lightly, from tear gas inhalation. Seven were hit by live bullets, and 45 by rubber bullets, the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinian rallied after Friday prayers near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a flashpoint site in the holy city which, along with the Dome of the Rock, sits on the Temple Mount. The holiest place in Judaism, the mount is known to Muslims as Haram al Sharif. PLO and Turkish flags were raised during Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa.

Most of the thousands of worshipers dispersed peacefully after Friday prayers in the Old City. But hundreds of demonstrators burned Israeli flags while others chanted, “The war is approaching, Al-Quds Arabiya,” using the Arabic name for Jerusalem and declaring it an “Arab” city. Protesters also chanted, “Let us die as martyrs — there is no place for the State of Israel.”

A protest erupted briefly at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, and was cleared by police. Demonstrators threw objects at the security forces deployed there. Israel Radio said Arab members of Knesset were seen in the crowds.

In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

Reading Between the Lines of Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement

December 7, 2017
 The Jerusalem Post
DECEMBER 7, 2017 12:16

What did the president say and why and how did he say it.

In a thirteen minute, 1,200 word speech, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and suit

With Vice President Mike Pence looking on, US President Donald Trump gives a statement on Jerusalem, during which he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, US, December 6, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

Although he promised a departure from failed policies of the past and sought to put his imprimatur on the peace process, much of the speech he gave was based on careful wording intended not to upset the status quo too much.

It was crafted with careful attention to carry Trump’s own message, alongside a message the future administrations could stand by.

The following are several key elements of the statement.

 We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past.

Trump promised when he came into office to move beyond the problems he claimed to have inherited from past administrations.

Some of these related to what he sees as failed policies in the Middle East, wasted lives and money.

Like Obama before him, Trump wants to depart from these failures and try something new.

 I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

Trump wants to remind voters that he has accomplished something in 2017, after almost a year in office. This is a campaign promise he can deliver.

He’s trying to break with former presidencies and distinguish himself.

 The Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.

 Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Here the speechwriters have carefully chosen “Israeli people” and not “Jewish people,” trying to be cognizant that Israel is not just made up of Jews. The “Israeli people” are contrasted with the three monotheistic religions.

It’s interesting they chose the “stations of the cross” and not the Holy Sepulchre which is probably because Protestants do not have a space in the Sepulchre, and one of Trump’s base of support has tended to be among more rural Christian Americans.

 But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

The centerpiece of the speech, doubling down on mentioning Jerusalem, which is mentioned eighteen times in the speech, compared to “Israel” which is mentioned twenty-three times.

The word “obvious” feels very Trump-like. Diplomats tend to shy away from “obvious” in favor of complex terminology and views that are not obvious. The Golan is obviously part of Israel, but according to the UN is still part of Syria, for instance.

 This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.

Here, Trump seems to lapse into a discussion about building something “great” in America.

During the campaign he often references his acumen as a builder of things, such as in Atlantic city, or the numerous places that have the “Trump” name.

There was no reason to delve into the minutiae of “hiring architects, engineers and planners,” but this is classic Trump.

 I also want to make one point very clear: This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.

 We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians.

The second part of the speech seeks to re-assure local allies in the region that the US administration will stand by its commitment to “lasting” peace.

This term “lasting” is one of the meaningless generalizations regarding “peace” that always finds its way into US policy statements.

Trump adds a flourish though, “a great deal,” to show that he has taken part in this statement.

 In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.

Here the speechwriters wants to make sure to include the Islamic holy site, a quiet communication to Saudi Arabia and Jordan that the US cares about the holy sites and the status quo.

This is a historic status quo reference from the 19th century, one that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan takes very seriously as a custodian of the holy sites.

 I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year:

Trump seeks to reach out to Saudi Arabia which has been one of his closes allies in the region.

Saudi Arabia was not only the site of his speech to 50 Muslim countries in the spring, but also the Kingdom has been pushing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to make peace.

In the region the Saudis are widely blamed for Trump’s decision and they are accused of accepting the recognition quietly. Trump wants to remind listeners, the Saudis are on his side and he is on theirs.