Jerusalem embassy: Hamas declares new intifada; Israeli Communists condemn Trump
Palestinians burn posters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump during a protest against the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Gaza City, Dec. 7. | Khalil Hamra / AP

President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem continues to provoke reactions of outrage across the Middle East and around the world. In line with the predictions of many, it has ignited new violence, with the first death reported yesterday after a Palestinian man in Gaza was killed by Israeli fire during a protest against the decision.

Also yesterday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new “intifada,” or uprising, in response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip were paralyzed by a general strike called by the Palestinian Authority and protests continued for a second day over Trump’s widely condemned announcement on Wednesday.

Demonstrators in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Nablus, and Hebron burnt images of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with U.S. and Israeli flags, while Israeli occupation forces used tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds.

The humanitarian organization Palestinian Red Crescent said dozens suffered tear gas inhalation, six more were wounded by rubber bullets, and one other person had a bullet wound. The Israeli armed forces denied live ammunition was used.

Haniyeh, the Hamas leader, said in a speech in Gaza City on Thursday that Trump had “killed” the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. “The American decision is an aggression on our people and a war on our sanctuaries,” he said. Using the inflammatory rhetoric typical of the organization, he declared, “We should work on launching an Intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy.”

In this 2012 file photo, Palestinians pass near a section of Israel’s separation barrier (the so-called “apartheid wall”) on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. | Majdi Mohammed / AP

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, arriving in Gaza, slammed the “provocative” step that “reverses all efforts to revive the peace process, fuels the conflict, and even ends the U.S. role as a peace broker.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meeting Jordanian King Abdullah II, called Trump’s decision an “unacceptable crime” that had isolated Washington in the world. Abbas will attend an emergency Arab League meeting expected to be held today along with eight UN security council member states, including Egypt and permanent members Britain and France.

Cuba and Venezuela also condemned Trump’s decision on Wednesday. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said it reinforced Israel’s “de facto annexation of the city Jerusalem.” The Cuban Foreign Ministry said the U.S. move to “modify the historic status of Jerusalem violates the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people.”

Within Israeli society, too, voices of protest are being heard, especially among the ranks of the Communist Party of Israel (CPI). “Trump is a crazy pyromaniac capable of setting the entire region ablaze with his madness,” stated MK (Member of Knesset) Ayman Odeh, the leader of Hadash (Democracy Front for Peace and Equality), the left-wing electoral coalition in which the CPI participates.

“If there is one thing that the past few days have proved, it’s that the U.S. shouldn’t remain the sponsor for discussions between Israel and the Palestinians,” Odeh added. “If the Israeli government wishes for the world to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, all it needs to do is recognize East Jerusalem as the capital city of Palestine.”

MK Aida Touma-Sliman, also of the CPI, said, “The decision to move the [U.S.] embassy cripples the peace process and the chances of reaching a diplomatic agreement in the region.

“As long as Israel refers to Jerusalem as a ‘united’ city and occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Trump’s decision will significantly harm the rights of the Palestinian people to liberty and self-determination in its future capital, East Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem remains at the core of the perennial Israel-Palestine conflict, as Palestinians want Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state of their own.

This story features content from a story by James Tweedie in Morning Star and statements issued by the Communist Party of Israel.