On Friday, at least two rioters were killed during clashes with the Israeli army along the border of the Gaza strip. A missile fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza was destroyed by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Thousands of protesters have been injured and arrested in Israel in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said on Thursday that while other presidents have failed to comply with congressional demands to move the embassy to the Israeli capital, he is bound to do it. Also on Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the move, which will cost millions of dollars, will take several years to accomplish.

After his announcement, the president celebrated the Jewish festival of lights -- Hannukah -- at the White House in the company of his daughter Invanka and her husband Jared Kushner. Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein attended the event and observed that Trump's decision to recognize the Israeli capital was an "historic moment." The Trump administration did not invite any Jewish Democrats to the celebration, drawing criticism from former DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). Klein appeared to imply that Trump did not wish to disturb the festive mood of the celebration by inviting his critics. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Wasserman Schultz are Jews and severe critics of the president. "People are in a celebratory mood and just kvelling over this incredible, historic moment,” Klein told The New York Times. “[The president] did not invite people who have been hostile to him." Klein used a Yiddish term that means overflowing pride and joy.

Violent leftist-Muslim reaction

Elsewhere, reaction by leftists, anti-Semites, and pro-Muslim groups has been violent. In The Netherlands, there was an anti-semitic attack, while so-called antifascists in France are warning  on Friday that they will take action. Antifascist Action of France issued a call-out on Facebook to invite supporters to gather at Republique Square in Paris on Saturday and rally “against the colonization of Jerusalem.” Noting that CRIF -- the umbrella group formed by Jews of France -- is asking French President Emmanuel Macron to also recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the antifa group declared”, we can strike a blow against the imperialist West from within the belly of the beast.” The invitation went on to read: “Al Quds belongs to the Palestinians, Palestine stretches from the sea to the Jordan River.”

For his part, Macron has said that France “does not approve” of Trump’s policy on Jerusalem. In 2014, dozens of Arab men besieged 150 congregants at a Paris synagogue during a wave of riots over Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip against the Hamas terror group. In addition, Muslim terrorists have targeted Jewish businesses, schools, and synagogues in French in several deadly attacks. France remains on high alert after numerous terrorist machine-gun and bomb attacks over the last few years.

In the Netherlands on Thursday, a man waving a Palestinian flag was arrested outside a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam after breaking its windows and forcing his way in as passersby and two police officers looked on. The man, a 29-year-old migrant with a temporary residence permit, has been released pending further investigation of his actions, police said. 

Hamas, the terrorist organization that until recently exercised unilateral control over Gaza, called on Palestinians to rise up in “days of rage” on Friday, which is the day that Muslims go to pray in mosques. This third Intifada has been matched by calls from Palestinian politicians, even those in Israel’s parliament. Clashes have been reported in Bethlehem and Ramallah.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported that two people were killed and dozens injured on Friday. Mohammad al-Masri, 30, was fatally shot by the Israeli army east of Khan Younis in the enclave. The Washington Post reported that at least 35 people were injured in Gaza, while the Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 245 people were injured in the West Bank and Jerusalem. According to a statement by Israeli defense forces, during “riots” by Palestinian protesters, “soldiers fired selectively towards two main instigators and hits were confirmed.” Police have beefed up security in the Old City of Jerusalem, which are supported by troops. However, there were no restrictions imposed on entered the Haram al-Sharif compound, home of the renowned al-Aqsa Mosque. Thousands of worshippers filed into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound without incident at midday.

Some scuffles broke out between demonstrators and border police near the Austrian hospice in Jerusalem’s Old City. In Gaza, tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated after the end of Friday prayers, and clashes broke out between hundreds of youths and Israeli forces along the border between the enclave and Israel.

In Gaza, the Qassam Brigades -- the military wing of Hamas -- marched in formation on Friday, wearing uniforms and bearing weapons. The troops shouted condemnations of the United States while vowing to “liberate Jerusalem from occupation."

Hundreds of demonstrators showed up at the American embassy in neighboring Jordan holding placards reading “Decision Rejected” and “No to US arrogance.” Protesters showed up at the U.S. embassies in Indonesia and Malaysia. Criticism continued to flow in from governments in the Middle East, Europe and beyond. Protests took place in Pakistan, Turkey, and Tunisia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan predicted that the Middle East will begin to burn like a “ring of fire,” while European leaders reiterated their opposition to the policy. Erdogan has called for a meeting of regional leaders on December 13 to discuss their response to the U.S. initiative. Among national leaders condemning the move is Prime Minister Theresa May of the UK. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Thursday that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem “has the potential to send us backward to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.”

Christian leaders in Jerusalem wrote an open letter to Trump asking him to reconsider the move.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its historic capital. Palestinians want the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state of their own. East Jerusalem was taken by Israel during the 1967 war. Most countries assert that East Jerusalem and the Old City, which are home to holy sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is occupied territory. For decades, the U.S. had failed to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, having argued that its status should be determined as part of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. No other country has its embassy there. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that his government has been in contact with other countries about following Trump’s lead in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. However, numerous nations – primarily in the Middle East and Western Europe – issued statements damning Trump’s historic decision. “We are in contact with other countries that will declare similar recognition, and I have no doubt that the moment the American Embassy moves to Jerusalem, and even before, many more embassies will also move,” Netanyahu said at a conference.

The Czech Republic announced on Wednesday that it recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as did Russia in April. The Philippines is reportedly interested in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Condemnations of Trump are coming mostly from Western Europe, rather than Central or Eastern Europe. Canada clarified that it will not follow the U.S. lead.

On Friday, EU foreign policy chief Mogherini said in Brussels that Trump’s announcement has a “very worrying potential impact.” Mogherini said that the EU “has a clear and united position: We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states, and with Jerusalem as the capital of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.”

'Puzzling' remarks from EU foriegn policy leader

Israel’s foreign ministry responded to Mogherini’s comments by saying they were “puzzling.” The statement said that the belief that Jerusalem is not Israel’s capital is a “denial of an indisputable historical fact.” The statement read, “Denial of this simple truth makes peace more distant by creating unrealistic expectations among the Palestinians. President Trump took a courageous and just step that advances the chances of peace because he spoke the truth.”

At the foreign ministry conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu again praised Trump for the move. “President Trump has inscribed himself in the annals of our capital for all time,” the prime minister said. “His name will now be linked to the names of others in the context of the glorious history of Jerusalem and our people. I would like to thank him and the American Congress which, 22 years ago, provided a basis for the recognition until President Trump came and implemented this law.”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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