Al-Qaeda head calls for jihad on eve of US embassy move to Jerusalem
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Al-Qaeda head calls for jihad on eve of US embassy move to Jerusalem

In video titled 'Tel Aviv is Also a Land of Muslims,' Ayman al-Zawahiri says PA are the 'sellers of Palestine,' urges followers to take up arms

Still image from video obtained on September 11, 2012, of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking from an undisclosed location. (AFP/Site Intelligence Group)
Still image from video obtained on September 11, 2012, of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking from an undisclosed location. (AFP/Site Intelligence Group)

WASHINGTON — Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on Sunday said America’s decision to shift its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem was evidence that negotiations and “appeasement” have failed Palestinians as he urged Muslims carry out jihad against the United States.

In a five-minute video entitled “Tel Aviv is Also a Land of Muslims,” the Egyptian doctor who took charge of the global terror group after its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 referred to the Palestinian Authority as the “sellers of Palestine” while urging followers to take up arms.

US President Donald Trump “was clear and explicit, and he revealed the true face of the modern Crusade, where standing down and appeasement does not work with them, but only resistance through the call and jihad,” Zawahiri said, according to a transcript provided by the SITE monitoring agency.

He added that Bin Laden had declared the US “the first enemy of the Muslims, and swore that it will not dream of security until it is lived in reality in Palestine, and until all the armies of disbelief leave the land of Muhammad.”

He argued that Islamic countries had failed to act in Muslims’ interests by entering into the United Nations, which recognizes Israel, and submitting to Security Council and General Assembly resolutions instead of sharia (Islamic law).

Salafis in Rafah mourn the death of bin Laden in May 2011 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)
Palestinian Salafis in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah mourn the death of bin Laden in May 2011 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israelis were basking in national pride and pro-American fervor Sunday as tens of thousands marched in Jerusalem, a day ahead of the US embassy move from Tel Aviv to the disputed city.

Palestinians readied for their own protests on Monday over the embassy’s inauguration, including another mass riot in the Gaza Strip near the border with Israel. The so-called “March of Return” protests are backed by Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and is committed to Israel’s destruction.

During these violent protests, Palestinians hurl rocks and Molotov cocktails at IDF troops, roll burning tires at the security fence or try to pull it down with chains. Increasingly, demonstrators have been flying kites laden with containers of burning fuel to start fires in Israel.

The embassy move will take place on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, while the following day Palestinians will mark the Nakba, or “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation.

Top US officials have meanwhile insisted they could still push forward the troubled peace process despite pushback across the Arab world.

Asked in an interview with Fox News Sunday about whether there was any life left in the peace process, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded by saying “the peace process is most decidedly not dead.”

“We’re hard at work on it. We hope we can achieve a successful outcome there as well,” said Pompeo whose first two weeks in office have been largely consumed with arranging a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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