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Clashes Erupt Across West Bank Over US Jerusalem Pivot
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Old 12-08-2017
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Default Clashes Erupt Across West Bank Over US Jerusalem Pivot






Clashes Erupt Across West Bank Over US Jerusalem Pivot



Palestinians clash with Israeli troops during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem
as the capital of Israel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, Dec.8, 2017.

(AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

By ILAN BEN ZION and MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH - 52 minutes ago

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank and Muslim worshipers from Jordan to Indonesia took to the streets after Friday midday prayers to protest President Donald Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In several cities and town, angry protesters hurled stones at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Smoke rose over Bethlehem.

Trump’s seismic policy shift on Jerusalem has angered Arabs and Muslims who view it as an expression of blatant pro-Israel bias on one of the region’s most explosive religious and political disputes.

Jerusalem is home to major Muslim and Christian shrines, as well as Judaism’s holiest site. The city’s Israeli-annexed eastern sector is sought by the Palestinians as a future capital, while Israel says it won’t relinquish any part of the city.

On Friday, clashes erupted after Palestinians poured out of mosques after midday prayers, the highlight of the Muslim religious week.

Erab Fukaha, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent paramedics, said 12 Palestinians were hurt by rubber-coated steel pellets and one by live fire.

Palestinian political groups had called for massive demonstrations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem on Friday.

Tear gas was fired at Palestinian protesters in Bethlehem on Friday morning as groups across the West Bank, east Jerusalem and
the Gaza Strip gathered to protest the Trump administration’s recognition this week of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Dec. 8)

Separately, the Gaza-based leader of the Islamic militant Hamas has agitated for a third uprising against Israel.

Meanwhile, the militant Al-Qaeda network urged followers around the world to target vital interests of the United States, its allies and Israel. A statement posted Friday on AL-Qaeda's media arm as-Sahab called for holy war or jihad and described America as an oppressor of Muslims.

Street protests were held Friday across the region. Marches were staged in Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Jordan.

For decades, the United States had professed neutrality on the fate of Jerusalem, in line with an international consensus that the fate of the holy city should be determined in negotiations.

On Friday, all eyes were on east Jerusalem’s Old City, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is Islam’s third holiest shrine and stands on the remnants of Judaism’s holiest site. One of the compound’s outer walls is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

In the past, Israeli authorities often imposed age restrictions, barring younger Muslims from entering the Al Aqsa compound during periods of tensions.

The preacher at Al Aqsa told worshipers that the city will “remain Muslim and Arab.”

“All we want from the Arab and Muslim leaders is action and not statements of denunciation,” Sheikh Yousef Abu Sneineh said to the approximately 27,000 worshipers.

Around 2,000 people later gathered in the plaza around the mosque, chanting: “With our soul and blood, we will defend Al Aqsa and Jerusalem.”

In neighboring Jordan, hundreds of protesters in the capital, Amman, chanted “Jerusalem is Arab” and “America is the head of the snake.”

At a summit in Paris, the leaders of France and Lebanon warned that the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital threatened stability throughout the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “launching an appeal for calm and responsibility.” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the U.S. decision “will further complicate the peace process and pose an additional challenge to the stability of the whole region.”

Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank. Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

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