Thousands of Palestinian protesters held a “day of rage” in the Gaza Strip on January 28, while the Israeli military deployed reinforcements in the occupied West Bank.
The blueprint, which aims to solve one of the world’s longest-running conflicts, was drafted under the stewardship of Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Standing alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday, President Trump said his proposals “could be the last opportunity” for Palestinians.
Reports said Benjamin Netanyahu was planning to press ahead with annexing 30% of the occupied West Bank, with a cabinet vote due on February 2.
Israel has settled about 400,000 Jews in West Bank settlements, with another 200,000 living in East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
Speaking on Tuesday, President Mahmoud Abbas said it was “impossible for any Palestinian, Arab, Muslim or Christian child to accept” a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital.
He said: “We say a thousand times, no, no, no.
“We rejected this deal from the start and our stance was correct.”
The militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, also rejected the deal which it said aimed “to liquidate the Palestinian national project”.
The UN said it remained committed to a two-state solution based on the boundaries in place before the 1967 war, when Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu described President Trump’s plan as the “deal of the century”.
Israel “will not miss this opportunity”, he said.
“May God bless us all with security, prosperity and peace!” the Israeli prime minister added.
Standing alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, President Donald Trump has presented his long-awaited Middle East peace plan, promising to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.
President Trump proposed an independent Palestinian state and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements.
He said his proposals “could be the last opportunity” for Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plans as a “conspiracy”.
He said in a TV address from Ramallah in the West Bank: “I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass.”
The blueprint, which aims to solve one of the world’s longest-running conflicts, was drafted under the stewardship of President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Thousands of Palestinians protested in the Gaza Strip earlier on January 28, while the Israeli military deployed reinforcements in the occupied West Bank.
The joint announcement came as both President Trump and PM Netanyahu faced political challenges at home. Donald Trump is the subject of an impeachment trial in the Senate while the Israeli PM on January 28 dropped his bid for immunity on corruption charges. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, said that the timing of the announcement was not tied to any political development, adding it had been “fully baked” for some time.
President Trump’s proposals are:
The US will recognize Israeli sovereignty over territory that Donald Trump’s plan envisages being part of Israel. The plan includes a conceptual map that President Trump says illustrates the territorial compromises that Israel is willing to make.
The map will “more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem”, where President Trump says the US would open an embassy. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said President Trump’s plan would give Palestinians control over 15% of what it called “historic Palestine”.
Jerusalem “will remain Israel’s undivided capital”. Both Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to the holy city. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, be the capital of their future state.
An opportunity for Palestinians to “achieve an independent state of their very own” – however, he gave few details.
“No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes” – suggesting that existing Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank will remain.
Israel will work with the king of Jordan to ensure that the status quo governing the key holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims is preserved. Jordan runs the religious trust that administers the site.
Territory allocated to Palestinians in President Trump’s map “will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years”. During that time, Palestinians can study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and “achieve the criteria for statehood”.
President Trump said: “Palestinians are in poverty and violence, exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism. They deserve a far better life.”
In a recent interview, President Donald Trump has warned that Israeli settlements “complicate” the peace process with Palestinians and urged “care” over the issue.
The president also told the Israeli newspaper Yisrael Hayom that he did not believe the Palestinians, and possibly Israel as well, were ready to make peace.
He angered Palestinians in December when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Donald Trump also threatened to withhold aid unless Palestinians agreed to talks.
The interview was published on February 11.
Asked by editor-in-chief Boaz Bismouth when the US would present its peace plan, President Trump said: “We will see what happens. Right now the Palestinians are not into making peace, they are just not into it. Regarding Israel, I am not certain it, too, is interested in making peace so we will just need to wait and see what happens.”
Asked whether Israeli settlements would form part of the peace plan, the president said: “We will be talking about settlements. The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements.”
More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
President Trump said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had been a highlight of his first year in office.
Israel claims the whole of the city as its capital but the Palestinians want East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will no longer accept the US as a mediator following the controversial recognition of Jerusalem.
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”.
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.
Israel’s air force followed a number of raids on Hamas sites on December 8 with more air strikes on December 9, targeting weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Gaza’s Shifa hospital said that two bodies of Palestinians were found under the rubble of a Hamas military site bombed by Israeli planes overnight, bringing the death toll in the past 24 hours to four, with 160 injuries. The two other fatalities came when Israeli troops fired on crowds in Gaza during clashes on December 8.
Of the three rockets fired at Israel, its military said it had intercepted one with its Iron Dome defense system, one was found on wasteland and another landed in Sderot on December 8. No casualties were reported.
On December 8, Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas leader, said anyone seeking to move their embassy to Jerusalem was “an enemy of the Palestinians”.
Speaking before the UN on December 8, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States “recognizes the obvious; that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”.
Nikki Haley said the US continued to be “committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement”, and accused the UN of bias, saying it “has outrageously been one of the world’s foremost centers of hostility towards Israel”.
Israel had deployed extra battalions to the West Bank in anticipation of violence after Palestinian leaders called for protests after Friday prayers.
At least 217 Palestinians were wounded in confrontations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian medics said.
On December 8, there were protests held elsewhere against President Trump’s announcement.
Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters held demonstrations in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia and Iran.
Further afield, protesters rallied in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indian-administered Kashmir and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
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”.
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.
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 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.
Shimon Peres’ funeral is under way in Jerusalem before a large number of foreign dignitaries, including Barack Obama and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The former Israeli president died on September 28 at the age of 93.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu described Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s founding fathers, as “a great man of the world”, in his funeral eulogy.
A security crackdown ahead of the funeral ceremony has led to the “preventative arrests” of several people.
Mahmoud Abbas led a delegation of senior Palestinian officials in his first visit to Israel since 2010.
As a negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Mahmoud Abbas was one of the people who signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993, for which Shimon Peres won a Nobel Peace Prize the year after, along with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.
A senior Palestinian official told the Associated Press that Mahmoud Abbas wanted to “send a strong message to Israeli society that the Palestinians are for peace, and appreciate the efforts of peaceful men like Shimon Peres”.
A spokesman for Hamas, the more hard-line Palestinian group which runs Gaza, called on Mahmoud Abbas to “retract his decision to participate in the funeral of the criminal Shimon Peres”.
Shimon Peres’ reputation in the region is complicated by the 1996 shelling of Qana in southern Lebanon that killed more than 100 people who were sheltering in a UN compound.
It happened when, as prime minister, Shimon Peres ordered an offensive against a wave of rocket fire by the militant Hezbollah movement.
He later said it was a “bitter surprise” to find that several hundred people were in the camp at the time.
Shimon Peres’ coffin was earlier escorted by a military honor guard from the parliament building in Jerusalem to Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, where he will be laid to rest alongside many of the country’s former leaders.
Jordan and Egypt – the only two Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel – have both sent official representatives to the ceremony.
President Barack Obama is due to speak at the ceremony, along with Shimon Peres’ three children.
Shimon Peres’ body has been lying in state outside parliament in Jerusalem.
Israeli police say 8,000 officers have been deployed for the security operation as thousands of people are expected to attend the funeral.
Police chief Roni Alsheikh said it was “an operation on an unprecedented scale”.
The funeral is expected to be the largest such event in Israel since the funeral of PM Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish nationalist in 1995.
Shimon Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago and died in a hospital near Tel Aviv.
Israeli police have banned Palestinians from East Jerusalem from entering the Old City for two days after two Israeli men were killed and three injured in separate attacks in Jerusalem.
The Palestinian attackers were shot dead by police.
The latest violence comes two days after an Israeli couple was shot dead in the West Bank.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu is to hold emergency talks with security officials on October 4.
The restrictions will stop Palestinians from entering the Old City unless they live there. But Israelis, local business owners and schoolchildren will be allowed in.
The first stabbing incident took place on Saturday evening, just after the end of the Jewish Sabbath, close to Lion’s Gate in the Old City.
The two Israelis killed by Palestinians were Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, 41, a resident of the Old City, as well as 21-year-old Aharon Bennett who lives in a West Bank settlement.
The Palestinian man – named as Mohammad Halabi, a 19-year-old law student from a village near Ramallah in the West Bank – attacked Aharon Bennett, his wife, their two-year-old son and baby daughter who were on their way to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement.
Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, a reserve officer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was killed as he tried to defend the family, the ministry said.
Aharon Bennett’s wife was seriously wounded, while their son suffered minor injuries and their baby was unharmed, it added.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the Palestinian attacker had taken a gun from one of the wounded men and opened fire at police and tourists. He was then shot and killed by an Israeli police officer who had rushed to the scene.
Police later identified the attacker as a 19-year-old from al-Bireh, near Ramallah in the West Bank. The militant group Islamic Jihad issued a statement claiming him as one of its members.
In the second incident, a Palestinian teenager stabbed an Israeli teenager on a street in West Jerusalem in the early hours of Sunday, October 4. The attacker was also shot dead by police, similar to the earlier incident on Sunday.
There has been a recent flare-up in tensions between Israel and Palestinians, with violent confrontations between security forces and Palestinian youths in a compound holy to both Jews and Muslims in East Jerusalem.
Two 19th Century nuns, who lived in what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine and were native Arabic speakers, will be canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday, May 17.
The nuns, Mariam Bawardy of Galilee and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas of Jerusalem, will be among four new saints declared in Rome’s St Peter’s Square.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and over 2,000 Christian pilgrims from the region will be present at the ceremony.
The move is seen as a token of Vatican support for dwindling Christian communities in the Middle East.
On May 16, Pope Francis met Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican.
Mahmoud Abbas’ visit came just days after the Vatican formally recognized Palestinian statehood in a treaty.
The treaty states that the Holy See favors a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel and allows the Vatican to oversee aspects of Roman Catholic life in the areas President Mahmoud Abbas controls.
Israel expressed disappointment with the treaty, which uses the term “Palestinian state”.
Mariam Bawardy was born in Galilee to Greek Catholic parents from Syria and Lebanon.
A mystic, she is said to have carried out many miracles and to have experienced stigmata – wounds representing those suffered by Jesus on the cross.
Marie Alphonsine Ghattas – who was born to a Palestinian family in Jerusalem – co-founded the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters, which today runs many kindergartens and schools.
Both nuns lived through tough conditions, overcoming male dominance in Ottoman society, poverty and ill-health while helping others.
They are said to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary and remained in close communication with her.
By granting these women sainthood, the Catholic Church is celebrating their good works but it is also showing support for Christians in the birthplace of their religion.
The total number of Christians in Israel and the Palestinian territories has declined to less than 2% of the population.
This is partly because of growing Jewish and Muslim populations, but also because of the conflict and the chance of better opportunities abroad.
Thousands of Christian Orthodox pilgrims have crowded the Old City of Jerusalem for the Holy Fire ceremony.
The Orthodox Easter Holy Fire is considered a miracle occurring every year on Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter Sunday.
The crowding forced police to close the Christian Quarter and tempers flared as Christian pilgrims and local Christians could not get through to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to be built on the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Israeli police deployed hundreds of officers in to secure the old city as Christian worshipers from the Orthodox denominations eagerly anticipated the ceremony.
Those who arrived early watched as the key-holder to the sacred site arrived to unlock the church doors. Due to the church being divided by different denominations, the keys are held by a Muslim man whose family has been considered neutral by all parties for several generations.
Each year at 14:00 local time (12:00GMT), on the day before Orthodox Easter Sunday, the ceremony marks a miracle.
After a procession around the church, all of the lights inside are extinguished before the entrance of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch who carries a handful of candles. When the Patriarch emerges, the candles are believed to be lit by a miraculous flame which is then used to light the candles of the congregation.
Thousands of Orthodox Christians flock to the Old City of Jerusalem to retrace the last steps of Jesus Christ.
Carrying wooden crosses and singing hymns, worshippers walked in procession along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, marking Good Friday, retracing what they believe was the route that Jesus Christ took to his crucifixion.
Worshipers who follow the Eastern calendar began the Easter festival of Good Friday eventually make their way to the Holy Sepulchre church where Christians believe Jesus was buried, before rising from the dead three days later.
The annual ritual, in the Old City of Jerusalem, attracts thousands of pilgrims from around the world each year.
At least one person has been killed after a Palestinian driver has rammed a car into several pedestrians in Jerusalem, hours after clashes erupted at the city’s holiest site.
About a dozen people were injured and the driver was shot dead by police.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack was “a direct result of incitement” by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
A similar car attack by a Palestinian took place in the same area two weeks ago which left a woman and a baby dead.
Meanwhile Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel over what it called the “unprecedented Israeli escalation” at holy and sensitive sites in Jerusalem.
Also citing continued settlement activity, Jordan is to lodge a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council in protest, the Jordanian state news agency Petra reported.
Israeli media reports say the driver – named as Ibrahim al-Akari – was from Shuafat refugee camp in the east of the city.
At least one person has been killed after a Palestinian driver has rammed a car into several pedestrians in Jerusalem
His Facebook page states that he is a member of Hamas, and the Twitter account for the group’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, described him as a member and a martyr.
Two weeks ago a Palestinian from the Abu Tor area drove his car into a tram station, killing a three-month-old baby and an Ecuadorean woman.
East Jerusalem has experienced growing unrest in recent months with Palestinians angry at Israeli settlement expansion on occupied land and restricted access to the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
At times of tension, Israeli police bar male Muslim worshippers under the age of 50 from entering the compound as a security measure.
The Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif compound was briefly closed earlier to visitors after dozens of Palestinian protesters fought with police.
The Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif has been reopened by Israeli police after its closure amid tensions following the shooting of prominent right-wing Jewish activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick.
Jerusalem holy site was reopened ahead of Muslim Friday prayers, but with restrictions on worshippers as a security measure.
Meanwhile the Palestinian suspected of wounding Rabbi Yehuda Glick has been buried in East Jerusalem.
There has been an escalation of tension in the city in recent weeks.
On October 30, a spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas described Israel’s temporary closure of the holy site as a “declaration of war”.
The compound – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif – is the holiest site in Judaism, and contains the al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site in Islam.
The site was reopened to Muslim worshippers on Friday morning, with entry to men restricted to those over 50 amid fears of unrest after Friday prayers
On Thursday night hundreds of people gathered for the funeral of Moataz Hejazi amid a heavy police presence. The burial passed off without incident, police said.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism
Moataz Hejazi, 32, was shot after opening fire when police surrounded his home, officials said.
He was suspected of having attacked Rabbi Glick as he left a conference on Jewish claims to the Jerusalem holy site.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick is a well-known campaigner for the right of Jews to pray at the site, which is currently prohibited.
He was seriously wounded and is on a life-support machine in a Jerusalem hospital.
On Wednesday night there were clashes in the neighborhood of Abu Tor between police and Palestinians protesting against the killing of Moataz Hejazi.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets against stone-throwing youths.
Moataz Hejazi’s cousin alleges that he was shot by police after being detained within his house. Israeli police say Moataz Hejazi was killed after he began shooting at police who then opened fire in response.
Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “extremely concerned” by the escalation in tensions and had urged Israel to reopen the holy site.
“It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in word and in practice,” he said.
Some districts of East Jerusalem have seen nightly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces since the Gaza conflict last summer.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has described the closure of the disputed Jerusalem holy site Temple Mount as a “declaration of war”, his spokesman has said.
The move came amid tension after the shooting of Jewish activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm, saying Mahmoud Abbas was responsible for escalating tensions.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a campaigner for greater Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif, was wounded.
Israeli police later killed a Palestinian suspected of shooting him.
The man, named as 32-year-old Moataz Hejazi, was shot after opening fire when police surrounded his home.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick is a well-known US-born campaigner for the right of Jews to pray at the site, which they are currently prohibited from doing. The compound is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.
It is the holiest site in Judaism, and also contains the al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site in Islam.
Palestinians hold the Israeli government responsible for a “dangerous act”, Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying by Nabil Abu Rudeina, in remarks carried by AFP news agency.
“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Nabil Abu Rudeina added.
“The state of Palestine will take all legal measures to hold Israel accountable and to stop these ongoing attacks.”
Rabbi Yehuda Glick is a campaigner for greater Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount
However, PM Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm and suggested Mahmoud Abbas was responsible for the increasing tension.
“We’re facing a wave of incitement by radical Islamic elements as well as by the Palestinian Authority chairman… who said that Jews must absolutely be prevented from going on to the Temple Mount,” he said, quoted by Haaretz newspaper.
Benjamin Netanyahu added that reinforcements for the security forces would be brought into Jerusalem to keep order.
The shooting of Rabbi Yehuda Glick is the latest in a series of incidents which have led to an escalation of tensions in Jerusalem.
Some districts of East Jerusalem have seen nightly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces since the conflict in Gaza.
Last week a Jewish baby and Ecuadorian woman were killed when a Palestinian attacker drove his car into a group of pedestrians at a tram stop in Jerusalem.
Police said Rabbi Yehuda Glick’s suspected attacker, Moataz Hejazi, had served time in jail in Israel and was released in 2012, adding that he belonged to the Islamic Jihad militant group.
The police anti-terrorist unit along with the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet had received information that Yehuda Glick’s attacker was located in the Abu Tor neighborhood, Israeli officials said.
Police say they were fired at after surrounding the house and shot back, hitting the suspect.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick has had surgery for gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen.
He had just attended a conference where delegates discussed Jewish claims to the compound, one of the most contentious areas of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel argues that it protects freedom of worship at the site but Palestinians claim it is unilaterally taking steps to allow larger numbers of Jewish visitors.
The site is administered by an Islamic body called the Waqf, while Israeli police are in charge of security.
Mohammad Abu Khdair, the Palestinian teenager found dead in Jerusalem this week, was burned alive, first post mortem examination findings quoted by the Palestinian attorney-general say.
“The direct cause of death was burns as a result of fire,” Mohammed al-A’wewy was quoted as saying.
Israeli authorities say the circumstances surrounding the death of Mohammad Abu Khdair, 16, are unclear.
The teen’s death followed the abduction and murder of three young Israelis, with violent clashes spreading overnight.
The post mortem examination on Mohammad Abu Khdair was carried out by Israeli doctors, with Saber al-Aloul, the director of the Palestinian forensic institute, in attendance.
The Palestinian official news agency Wafa quoted the attorney-general as saying that Saber al-Aloul had reported fire dust in the respiratory canal, meaning the victim had “inhaled this material while he was burnt alive”.
Mohammad Abu Khdair’s death in Jerusalem followed the abduction and murder of three young Israelis
Mohammad Abu Khdair, who had also suffered a head injury, had burns to 90% of the body, it was reported.
The findings have not been officially released.
Mohammad Abu Khdair’s family believes he was killed in revenge for the murders of the three Israeli teenagers.
The bodies of Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both aged 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach were found on June 30. Their funerals were held on Wednesday.
Thousands attended Mohammad Abu Khdair’s funeral on Friday near the family’s home in the Shufat district of East Jerusalem.
Hundreds of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli police in East Jerusalem before and after the funeral.
The clashes continued overnight in the West Bank and spread to Israeli-Arab towns in northern Israel.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said protesters burned tyres and hurled rocks. Disturbances were reported in Taibe and Tira.
Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades and more than 20 people were arrested.
Clashes were also reported in the central town of Qalansawe overnight, with Jewish drivers attacked and some cars torched.
Haaretz reported that some 50 Palestinians and 13 policemen were hurt in clashes, which it said had spread to all of East Jerusalem’s districts.
Israeli officials handed the body of Mohammad Abu Khdair to his family on Friday morning.
The body of a Palestinian teenager, who was kidnapped overnight in East Jerusalem, has been found in a forest in Givat Shaul.
A boy was seen being forced into a car in Shufat early on Wednesday. Within hours, a partly-burned corpse was discovered in the forest.
Israeli police were unable to confirm the motive, but Palestinian sources said it appeared to be a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens.
Later, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police near the boy’s home.
The protesters threw stones at the officers, who reportedly responded by firing sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Funerals were held in the West Bank for the three Jewish seminary students whose bodies were found near the city of Hebron
The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, called for restraint.
“This is a horrible and barbaric act which I strongly condemn,” he said in a statement.
“This is not our way and I am fully confident that our security forces will bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Initial reports said the boy was abducted in the early hours of the morning near his father’s shop in the Arab district of Shufat in East Jerusalem. Witnesses say he was bundled into a white car.
A few hours later his body, partly burned and bearing marks of violence, was found abandoned in a forest in the western outskirts of the city, the report said.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said they were looking to see if there was a connection between the missing teenager and the body that was found.
Officers were looking into possible criminal or nationalistic motives for the killing, he added.
A senior official from the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the Reuters news agency that his family had identified the body.
“The Israeli government bears responsibility for Jewish terrorism and for the kidnapping and murder in occupied Jerusalem,” said the official, Dmitry Diliani.
The killing comes a day after funerals were held in the West Bank for the three Jewish seminary students whose bodies were found near the city of Hebron on Monday, two-and-a-half weeks after they were abducted.
Thousands of people attended the ceremony in Modein, among them Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.
Pope Francis is visiting Yad Vashem – Israel’s national Holocaust memorial – on the final leg of his three-day Middle East tour.
After arriving in Israel on Sunday, Pope Francis described the Holocaust as “an enduring symbol of the depths to which human evil can sink”.
On Monday, the Pope was also expected to visit religious sites in Jerusalem and hold talks with Israel’s chief rabbis.
The pontiff’s tour has already taken in Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
Pope Francis is expected to visit religious sites in Jerusalem and hold talks with Israel’s chief rabbis
On Sunday, the Pope invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican to pray for peace. Both accepted.
Monday’s itinerary began with a meeting with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is situated on a disputed holy site known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and Jews as the Temple Mount.
Pope Francis entered the Dome of the Rock, from where Islamic tradition says the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
Later, the Pope will visit the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism. It is part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount dating back to a time when a Jewish temple stood there.
Before visiting Yad Vashem, Pope Francis laid a wreath at the tomb of Theodor Herzl, who is seen as the founder of modern Zionism.
Three previous pontiffs who have visited Jerusalem over the past 50 years have not visited the site.
The move was welcomed by PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
“We commend and appreciate your decision to lay a wreath on the grave of Binyamin Zev Herzl,” Benjamin Netanyahu said, using Theodor Herzl’s Hebrew name.
The official purpose for Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land is to improve ties with the Orthodox Church.
However, it comes just weeks after peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down.
Later on Monday, Pope Francis will travel to Tel Aviv, from where he will fly back to Rome.