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Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced he will not accept any US plan for peace with Israel, after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Abbas’ comments came after a UN General Assembly vote effectively repudiated President Donald Trump’s controversial declaration.

The US has for the past few months been drafting a new peace plan, though it has not divulged any details.

Meanwhile, two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops amid fresh protests over Jerusalem’s status.

The men, both in their 20s, were shot dead in the east of the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel said it was investigating.

There have been violent confrontations on the border between Israel and Gaza, as well as across the occupied West Bank, for the past three Fridays.

Palestinians clashed with troops in places including Bethlehem as the city, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, prepared for Christmas.

Image source Wikimedia

Jerusalem Issue: UN Resolution Rejects Donald Trump’s Declaration

Jerusalem Issue: Donald Trump Threatens to Cut Financial Aid to UN Resolution Supporters

Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that he no longer accepted the US as a mediator in the peace process with Israel. He also rebuffed a new US framework for peace being developed by President Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jared Kushner, before it has been launched.

The Palestinian leader told a news conference in Paris: “The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from the United States.”

While the details of the US plan are not known, it has been devised for months and there has been an expectation it will be publicly launched in early 2018.

The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed amid acrimony in April 2014.

Mahmoud Abbas has been emboldened by the outcome of the vote at the UN, which rejected any changes to the status of Jerusalem.

Yesterday’s vote came three days after the US used its power of veto to block a similar resolution at the world body’s smaller, but more powerful, Security Council.

The US had warned countries not to support the latest resolution, threatening to cut off financial aid anyone who backed it.

However, the UN resolution still passed with a decisive majority, as most nations, including the US’ allies, voted in its favor.

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A UN resolution calling on the US to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been decisively backed by a General Assembly vote.

The resolution says that any decision regarding Jerusalem status is “null and void” and must be canceled.

The text was approved by 128 states, with 35 abstaining and nine others voting against.

The vote came after President Donald Trump threatened to cut financial aid to those who backed the resolution.

Following the vote, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US was exploring “various options” and no decisions had yet been made.

The nine who voted against the resolution were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

Among the 35 abstaining were Canada and Mexico.

Those voting in favor included the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia and the UK) as well as key US allies in the Muslim world.

There were 21 countries who did not turn up for the vote.

Image source Wikimedia

Jerusalem Issue: Donald Trump Threatens to Cut Financial Aid to UN Resolution Supporters

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Protests in Occupied West Bank

The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries currently maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. However, President Trump has told the US state department to start work on moving the US embassy.

The 193-member UN General Assembly held the rare emergency special session at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned President Trump’s decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.

The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed a Security Council resolution that was similar to the text approved on December 21.

The text put forward by Turkey and Yemen does not mention the US, but expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.

The resolution also says “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council”.

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President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that back a UN resolution opposing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as he took the step amid international criticism.

The president told reporters at the White House: “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us.

“Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Donald Trump’s comments come ahead of a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution opposing any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The draft resolution does not mention the United States, but says any decisions on Jerusalem should be canceled.

Earlier, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned member states that President Donald Trump had asked her to report on “who voted against us” on December 21.

The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Image source Flickr

Jerusalem Issue: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Expects EU Countries to Follow US Recognition

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Protests in Occupied West Bank

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries currently maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. However, President Trump has told the US state department to start work on moving the US embassy.

The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on December 21 at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned President Trump’s decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.

The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed a Security Council resolution, which affirmed that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem were “null and void and must be rescinded”, and urged all states to “refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city”.

The other 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the draft, but Ambassador Nikki Haley described it as an “insult”.

The non-binding resolution put forward by Turkey and Yemen for the General Assembly vote mirrors the vetoed Security Council draft.

The Palestinian permanent observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said he hoped there would be “overwhelming support” for the resolution.

However, on December 19, Nikki Haley warned in a letter to dozens of member states that encouraged them to “know that the president and the US take this vote personally”.

According to journalists who were shown the letter, Nikki Haley wrote: “The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”

“The president’s announcement does not affect final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” she added.

“The president also made sure to support the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites.”

Nikki Haley also tweeted: “At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, accused the US of intimidation.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference in Ankara on December 20 before travelling to New York: “We see that the United States, which was left alone, is now resorting to threats. No honorable, dignified country would bow down to this pressure.”

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he expects EU countries to follow the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as his country’s capital.

Benjamin Netanyahu is in Brussels for talks – the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the city in more than 20 years.

However, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini says the bloc’s stance on the matter is unchanged.

President Donald Trump’s move has left the US isolated on a highly sensitive issue between Israel and the Palestinians.

Arriving in Brussels, PM Benjamin Netanyahu again welcomed the announcement, saying Jerusalem had been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and President Trump had put “facts squarely on the table”.

He added: “I believe that all, or most, European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace.”

As well as recognizing Jerusalem, President Donald Trump also said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

However, Federica Mogherini said the EU would continue to recognize the “international consensus” on Jerusalem.

“We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

Federica Mogherini also condemned “all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world”.

Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Protests in Occupied West Bank

Before heading to Brussels, Benjamin Netanyahu met France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, who urged him to freeze settlement building and to re-engage with Palestinians.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Jerusalem is also home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

President Trump’s announcement drew worldwide condemnation and sparked fierce protests which again flared on December 10.

In Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, police used tear gas to stop demonstrators reaching the US embassy, while in Jerusalem itself, a Palestinian was arrested after stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli security guard.

A burning object was thrown at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg on December 9 in what police said was a failed arson attempt.

At least sixteen Palestinians have been injured in clashes in the occupied West Bank, during protests against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to local reports, the injuries are mostly from tear gas and rubber bullets, but at least one was hurt by live fire.

Israel has deployed hundreds of extra troops in the West Bank.

Donald Trump’s announcement – met with worldwide dismay – reversed decades of US policy on the sensitive issue.

Palestinians in the both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have gone on strike and taken to the streets in protest.

Many of the United States’ closest allies have said they disagree with the move, and both the UN Security Council and the Arab League will meet in the coming days to decide their response.

There are fears the announcement could lead to a renewed outbreak of violence. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has already called for a new intifada, or uprising.

On December 6, President Trump said that he had “determined it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.

He said: “I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The president said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfills a campaign promise and appeals to Donald Trump’s right-wing base.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, he added.

“It is also the right thing to do.”

President Trump said the US would support a two-state solution – shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel – “if agreed to by both sides”.

He also refrained from using Israel’s description of Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital”. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful to President Trump, who had “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”.

The prime minister also said Israel was “in touch with other countries to follow suit. I have no doubt other embassies will move to Jerusalem – the time has come”. He did not name any of these countries, although the Philippines and the Czech Republic have been mentioned in Israeli media.

The mood has been very different on the Palestinian side.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called for a “day of rage” on December 8 and said it should “be the first day of the intifada against the occupier”.

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President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been condemned by world’s leaders.

Saudi Arabia called it “unjustified and irresponsible”, while France and the UK said they did not support the decision.

However, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as “a historic day”.

Donald Trump’s move reversed decades of US policy. The fate of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced President Trump’s move as “deplorable”.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are expected to hold a day of strikes and protests on December 7.

The UN Security Council is to discuss the issue on December 8 after eight of the 15 member nations called for an emergency session. The Arab League is to meet on December 9.

President Trump said on December 6 he had “judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians”.

He said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfils a campaign promise and appeals to Donald Trump’s right-wing base.

Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Jordan Warns US over Jerusalem’s Recognition as Israel’s Capital

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, the president added.

“It is also the right thing to do.”

Donald Trump said the US still supported a two-state solution to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if approved by both sides, which would essentially see the creation of an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

Following the announcement, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful, tweeting: “Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia.”

On December 6, Benjamin Netanyahu went further, saying President Trump “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”, and predicting that many other countries would follow Washington’s example.

The Republican Jewish Coalition thanked President Trump in a New York Times add.

The mood was very different on the Palestinian side, with a day of strikes and protests planned.

The leader of Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, called for a new intifada, or uprising, saying it was the only way to “confront” Israel and the US.

President Mahmoud Abbas called President Trump’s announcement “deplorable” and said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine”.

Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s party, said it would push for a UN resolution requesting that Washington “rescind its decision” and disqualifying the US as a co-sponsor of the peace process.

The Arab and the wider Muslim world – including a number of US allies – condemned Donald Trump’s announcement.

Demonstrations have already taken place outside the US consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Saudi royal court said: “The US move represents a significant decline in efforts to push a peace process and is a violation of the historically neutral American position on Jerusalem.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called on Muslims everywhere to “make it clear that we strongly oppose” the US move.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “a moment of great anxiety”. He said “there is no alternative to the two-state solution”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both said their countries did not support the move while EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini voiced “serious concern”.

Donald Trump’s announcement puts the US at odds with the rest of the international community’s view on Jerusalem’s status.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, but before now it has not been internationally recognized as part of Israel.

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President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, senior White House officials have said.

The president is due to announce the controversial decision in a speech later.

Donald Trump is also expected to approve moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for several years.

Israel welcomes the changes but the Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned they will jeopardize any Middle East peace process.

Pope Francis called for the “status quo” to be respected. Dialogue would only come through “recognizing the rights of all people” in the region, he said.

Saudi Arabia, an ally of the US, called the new policy “a flagrant provocation to Muslims”.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US becomes the first country to do so since the foundation of Israel in 1948.

The issue goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the Arab and wider Islamic world.

Jerusalem is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel annexed the sector from Jordan after the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of talks.

Image source Wikimedia

Jordan Warns US over Jerusalem’s Recognition as Israel’s Capital

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Israel-Jordan Deal on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif Holy Site

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US could reinforce Israel’s position that settlements in the east are valid Israeli communities.

Trump administration officials said recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was seen as “a recognition of reality” by the US government.

However, specific boundaries of Jerusalem would remain subject to a final status agreement, the official said. The status of holy sites would not be affected.

President Trump would also direct the state department to begin the process of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem – but this could take several years as it still has to be designed and built and security concerns would need to be addressed.

Donald Trump originally promised the move to pro-Israel voters during his campaign for the presidency.

The White House officials added that the president would still sign a regular waiver blocking the embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until the new building was completed.

Successive presidents have signed waivers to get round the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates moving the embassy. They have done this so that the US can be seen as neutral in Middle East peace negotiations.

Donald Trump has vowed to pursue a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, led by his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner.

An administration official said the new US policy on Jerusalem was not designed to favor Israel in that process.

Ahead of his formal announcement, President Trump phoned several regional leaders to inform them of the embassy move.

Reacting to news of President Trump’s impending announcement, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told him the relocation of the embassy or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world”.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for protests on December 8 and Jordan’s King Abdullah said the decision would “undermine efforts to resume the peace process”.

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged President Trump “not to complicate the situation in the region” while Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country could sever ties with Israel.

China also warned of an escalation in tensions in the Middle East.

France, the EU and the Arab League have also expressed concern.

US government employees and their families have been barred from personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank for security reasons ahead of expected protests.

Israel’s intelligence minister Israel Katz told Army Radio that Israel was “preparing for every option”, including an outbreak of violence.

The Arab world is reacting to an expected announcement by President Donald Trump that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to recent reports, President Trump will make the statement this week but will further delay acting on a campaign pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The head of the Arab League, Jordan and the Palestinian president have warned of the consequences of a declaration.

Jerusalem’s fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Arabs.

A deadline for President Trump to sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem expires on December 4.

Every president, including Donald Trump, has signed the waiver every six months since US Congress passed an act in 1995 calling for the embassy to be moved.

Donald Trump repeatedly pledged during his election campaign to move the embassy, and while he has said it was still his intention, he has not yet done so.

There are signs however the president will make a statement on December 6 announcing Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while holding off moving the embassy.

Image source Wikimedia

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Israel-Jordan Deal on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif Holy Site

Israel Sets up Checkpoints in East Jerusalem’s Arab Areas

The status of the city goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the rest of the Arab and wider Islamic world.

Jerusalem is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel occupied the area in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords its final status is meant to discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries, including Israel’s closest ally the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, the country’s commercial capital.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

If the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it will put it out-of-step with the rest of the international community and reinforce Israel’s position that settlements in the east are valid Israeli communities.

The move would also raise a question over how the US will treat resolutions dealing with East Jerusalem at the UN. The US has a power of veto and could use this to block future motions critical of Israeli policy in the east.

There is growing anger towards Washington among its allies in the Middle East.

Jordan, the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, has warned of “grave consequences” if President Trump goes ahead, and has called for an emergency meeting of key regional and Islamic blocs the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to discuss the issue.

Arab League chief Abul Gheit warned such a move would “nourish fanaticism and violence”.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has contacted world leaders urging them to intervene, saying “such a US decision would destroy the peace process and drag the region into further instability”.

The US has brokered decades of on-off peace talks, and the Trump administration is formulating fresh peace proposals – but recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would compromise Washington’s neutrality in the eyes of the Palestinians.

It remains unclear though whether President Trump will recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The White House has neither confirmed nor denied the president’s intention, and in a rare public speech on December 3 his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner refused to be drawn on the issue.