Two Palestinians died Saturday in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket fire and that erupted in the West Bank for the third consecutive day after Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In protest against this unilateral recognition, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has decided not to receive US Vice President Mike Pence during a visit scheduled for mid-December in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khalidi said Saturday.
Palestinians again took to the streets of East Jerusalem on Saturday, as well as to the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by the Israeli army for 50 years. They threw stones at Israeli forces to protest the US decision. The latter retaliated by firing rubber or real bullets and tear gas.
During a “day of wrath” on Friday in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, thousands of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers and policemen. Two Palestinians had been killed and dozens wounded.
Several rockets have also been fired since Thursday from the Gaza Strip, bordering southern Israel, against Israeli territory without casualties. Some were intercepted and one fell in the Israeli town of Sderot but without exploding.
In retaliation, Israeli aviation and artillery targeted “military” targets in the Gaza Strip controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement, considered a “terrorist” organization by Israel.
On Saturday at dawn, two Palestinian militants were killed in an air raid against a base of the Hamas armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in Nousseirat, according to a Hamas official.
The day before, about 15 Palestinians had been wounded in the Israeli raids.
This bout of violence came after Donald Trump’s decision on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City in the future, a gesture breaking with decades of diplomacy. American and international.
Jerusalem, with its holy places Jewish, Christian and Muslim, is a passionate subject. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the international community has never recognized this city as capital. It considers that its “final status” must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel has occupied East Jerusalem, a Palestinian part of the city, since 1967. It has annexed it and proclaimed the whole city as its “eternal and indivisible” capital. The UN has never recognized this annexation. Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of the state they aspire to.
In solidarity with the Palestinians, tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Friday in several countries against the initiative of Mr. Trump, also applauded by the Israeli political class.
Without being massive for the moment, the mobilization feeds the international fears that Mr. Trump did not open the Pandora’s box.
The UN is “particularly concerned about the risks of violent escalation,” Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the peace process, told an emergency meeting of the Security Council in New York on Friday night.
Trump’s decision “does not promote the prospect of peace in the region,” said the ambassadors of France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden and Germany at the UN.
“Sermons and lessons”
Rejecting “sermons and lessons,” US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley reiterated that Trump had “not taken a stand on boundaries or boundaries.” She assured that the United States, more than ever isolated, remained engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, stalled since 2014.
For Palestinian leaders, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel preempts the status of the city negotiations and prevents the United States from assuming its historic role as mediator in the peace process.
In announcing his decision, Trump said he would soon send his Vice President Mike Pence to the Middle East.
But the great Imam of Al-Azhar, the influential institution of Islam based in Cairo, canceled his meeting with Mr. Pence planned in Egypt on December 20.
Egyptian Copts Pope Tawadros II also said he refused to accept the US Vice President.
In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to impose himself as the leader of the Palestinian cause by organizing a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul next week.