Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops on Friday left one person dead after calls for a “day of rage” as US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital again sent shockwaves through the region.
Diplomatic fallout from the deeply controversial declaration also continued, with suggestions Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas could refuse to meet US Vice President Mike Pence on his visit to the region later this month.
The UN Security Council was meeting today in an emergency session to discuss Trump’s move, which has drawn near universal condemnation, including from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Whether uprising would spread and spiral both in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the region was being closely watched, with Friday marking a second day of unrest.
Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, had called for a “day of rage” after its leader Ismail Haniya said a new intifada, or uprising, should be launched.
The Palestinian killed in clashes along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip was the first death linked to protests since Trump’s declaration on Wednesday.
A second Palestinian in Gaza was in “very critical” condition after being shot in the head during the clashes.
The Israeli army confirmed it had shot two people along the Gaza border, accusing them of being “main instigators” of “violent riots.”
Dozens of people were wounded from rubber bullets or live fire in Gaza and the West Bank, according to Palestinian officials.
The Israeli army said “violent riots” had broken out in around 30 locations involving some 3,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and hundreds on the Gaza border.
Palestinians in some areas set tyres alight while throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Police said more than 50 people were arrested in the West Bank.
Tens of thousands of people also took to the streets of Muslim and Arab countries across the world in protest, including in Jordan, Turkey and Malaysia.
Trump’s announcement has been met by a worldwide diplomatic backlash, though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lavished praise on the president and called the declaration “historic.”
For Jewish Israelis, the declaration is a simple recognition of reality and validation of their view that Jerusalem is their 3,000-year-old capital.
Trump said his defiant move – making good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge – marks the start of a “new approach” to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But many analysts question how a fair peace process could be possible by granting such a major Israeli demand while seeming to require nothing in return.
Israel has long claimed all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.
Its status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and international consensus has been that it must be negotiated between the two sides.
“It’s empty talk,” said a 20-year-old man who only gave his name as Omar as he walked toward the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site and located in Jerusalem’s Old City.
“No matter what happens, we know Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, not of Israel. Israel is an occupier.”
Trump’s declaration and intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem are moves that may help him domestically since they were long-sought by US evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters — key parts of his electoral base and important financial donors.
But while the declaration may mean little immediate concrete change, it risks setting off another round of bloodshed in the turbulent Middle East.
EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the decision could take the region “backwards to even darker times”.
Muslim and Middle Eastern leaders, including key US allies, have expressed increasing alarm over Trump’s decision to break with decades of precedent with unpredictable consequences.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it would put the region in a “ring of fire”.
Palestinian leaders have been so outraged that they have argued it disqualifies the United States from its traditional role as peace broker in the Middle East conflict.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official who has been involved in past peace talks, questioned what was left to negotiate.
“If these are the signs of the ultimate deal, God knows what the deal is going to be,” he said, referring to Trump’s pledge to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
“Maybe the expulsion of the Palestinians — God knows where.”
The declaration is sure to weigh heavily on Pence’s upcoming visit. (AFP)