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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.”

Image source Wikimedia

Israeli Settlements: UN Condemns Plans to Build 2,500 More Homes in West Bank

Israeli Settlements: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Condemns as Biased John Kerry’s Speech

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.

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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.

Israel has targeted Hamas sites in Gaza in retaliation for rocket strikes.

According to Israel’s military, it hit weapons sites on December 9. Two people were killed, a Gaza hospital said, bringing the deaths in Israeli strikes and gunfire over the past day to four.

On December 8, three rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have risen since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The December 6 decision reversed decades of US neutrality on the matter.

Israel has always regarded the city of 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.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

President Donald Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

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

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.

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.

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.Shimon Peres hospitalized

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.Israelis killed in Jerusalem attacks October 2015

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.

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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.Palestinian nuns Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas canonization

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.

Nano Bible – a copy of the Hebrew Bible the size of a pinhead – has gone on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The Nano Bible is the smallest version in the world.Nano Bible  Israel Museum

It is a gold-coated silicon chip smaller than a pinhead, and contains all 1.2 million letters of the bible.

Engineers carved on the gold-plated silicon chip by using an ion beam.

The tiniest bible is being exhibited as part of events marking Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary.

The hi-tech creation is being housed in the museum’s Shrine of the Book, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls – the oldest copies of Biblical texts ever found.

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. Holy Fire miracle Jerusalem

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.Orthodox Easter Via Dolorosa Jerusalem

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

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.

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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

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.

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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

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.

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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’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

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.

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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

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.

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Pope Francis arrives in Jordan at the start of a three-day visit to the Middle East which will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Pope Francis is traveling to Amman, where he will celebrate Mass in a stadium, and later meet Syrian refugees.

The official purpose of the visit is to improve ties with the Orthodox Church.

However, correspondents say many will expect Pope Francis to use his influence to try to ease tensions in the region.

Pope Francis arrives in Jordan at the start of a three-day visit to the Middle East which will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories

Pope Francis arrives in Jordan at the start of a three-day visit to the Middle East which will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories

Pope Francis will be accompanied by a rabbi and an imam – friends from his native Argentina – and hopes to improve relations between Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land.

His journey comes only a few weeks after the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed.

Israel has issued restraining orders against several Jewish right-wing activists this week over concerns that they could try to disrupt the visit.

Police said offensive “anti-Christian graffiti” was discovered on the wall of a church in the southern city of Beersheba on Friday.

Pope Francis’ journey marks the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Athenagoras.

The meeting ended 900 years of separation and enduring antagonism between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity.

On Sunday, Pope Francis will travel to Bethlehem in the West Bank and preside over Mass in Manger Square, near the site where Jesus is believed to have been born.

He will also meet the current Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch, Bartholomew, and they will sign a declaration of friendship.

The pontiff’schedule on Monday is set to include a visit to the al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City followed by the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall.

Pope Francis will be the fourth leader of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Jerusalem, after Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who went there in 2009.

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Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony has been celebrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Holy Fire is considered a miracle occurring every year on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.

Orthodox worshippers say the flame appears from Jesus’ tomb inside the church to show He has not forgotten his followers.

Thousands of Christian Orthodox pilgrims have celebrated Easter's Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Thousands of Christian Orthodox pilgrims have celebrated Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

The ancient church is believed to be built on the site of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

In keeping with tradition, Church of the Holy Sepulchre was unlocked by a Muslim family which has held the keys for centuries.

Meanwhile in Rome, Pope Francis called on Catholics to spread the message of God “to the very ends of the Earth”.

Pope Francis called on Catholics to recover “the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people”.

The pontiff was addressing followers at an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday.

The Catholic Church’s main Easter Mass will be celebrated on Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the church’s calendar.

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A rare snowstorm has hit Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank, choking off the city and stranding hundreds in vehicles on impassable roads.

Israeli authorities said at least 20 inches of snow had fallen since Thursday and more was forecast.

A rare snowstorm has hit Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank

A rare snowstorm has hit Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank

“In my 54 years I don’t remember a sight like this, such an amount I cannot recall,” said Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem.

The Israeli military helped police rescue hundreds of people stranded in vehicles on highways near the city.

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Israel has started to free a group of Palestinian prisoners, whose release was agreed as part of the deal that allowed peace talks to resume.

A group of 26 prisoners, all convicted of attacks that happened before 1993, were driven out of a jail in minibuses with tinted windows.

Some are being taken straight to Gaza, others are going to the West Bank.

Israelis outraged over Palestinian prisoner release

Israelis outraged over Palestinian prisoner release

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators began direct talks two weeks ago for the first time in three years.

Another round of talks is due to begin in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Israel agreed to release the 26 long-term prisoners as the first of 104 Palestinian and Israeli Arab inmates to be freed over the next few months.

Relatives and friends of the freed prisoners have gathered on the frontier with Gaza.

The inmates were named by Israel’s prison service shortly after midnight on Sunday, giving victims’ families 48 hours to submit legal challenges to the High Court.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court rejected an appeal by a victims’ rights group that objected to the release of all of the prisoners.

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