Palestinians call for clashes with IDF and settlers to protest US Jerusalem move

Groups urge all Muslims and Arabs to protest in support, and push boycott of American and Israeli goods

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

A Palestinian protestor lights a tire on fire during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on December 29, 2017, following the weekly Muslim Friday prayers. (AFP / Musa al Shaer)
A Palestinian protestor lights a tire on fire during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on December 29, 2017, following the weekly Muslim Friday prayers. (AFP / Musa al Shaer)

Palestinian groups on Monday called on Palestinians to clash with IDF soldiers and settlers next Friday, as part of a “day of popular rage,” to protest the US administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy to the city.

Representatives of the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, a group made up of various factions, issued the appeal at the end of an emergency meeting in Ramallah.

Declaring Friday as a “day of popular rage,” they called on Palestinians to initiate clashes “at all points of friction, including settlements and military checkpoints.”

The US State Department notified Congress on Friday that the Jerusalem embassy would open in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, speeding up the process by converting a building currently housing consular services into the embassy. The State Department confirmed the timing of the move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to invite US President Donald Trump to Israel in May to inaugurate the new US Embassy.

The Palestinians also called on Arabs and Muslims around the world to stage similar protests against the US administration’s policies and expressed opposition to Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East.

Referring to recent meetings between PA and Israeli officials, the factions called on Palestinians to abide by the decisions of the PLO bodies to suspend all relations with Israel.

“The factions affirm their condemnation and rejection of the meeting that took place between the so-called occupation coordinator and his finance minister with the Palestinian prime minister,” said a statement.

It was referring to last week’s meeting in Ramallah between PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major-General Yoav Mordechai.

Illustrative: Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (3rd from left) meets with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (4th from left) in Ramallah, on October 30, 2017. (Twitter)

This meeting, they said, “was in violation of the PLO decisions to boycott the occupation and get rid of the Oslo Accords, including security and economic agreements and political meetings.”

The factions also called on Palestinian civil society groups to boycott American delegations visiting the West Bank.

Last week, a US delegation of New York Council members and civil society groups that was on a visit to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research Survey in Ramallah was attacked by Palestinian protesters with eggs.

Palestinian police prevent demonstrators from approaching a police vehicle carrying members of the New York City council and civil society groups as they exit a building after visiting an NGO in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on February 22, 2018. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

PA policemen rescued the delegation members and drove them away in a police van. No one was hurt.

The statement renewed their call for boycotting Israeli and American goods and stepping up the “popular resistance inside the occupied territories.”

Responding to the controversy surround the Jerusalem Municipality’s decision to tax church-owned properties, the factions accused Israel of pursuing its “assaults on Islamic and Christian holy sites.”

On Sunday, Christian leaders shut the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem in protest against the new tax policy. The church remained closed on Monday to pilgrims and tourists.

Jerusalem Municipality officials said the taxes would not be applied to houses of worship, but rather properties used for non-prayer activities, including commercial activities.

The Palestinian factions also condemned as “collective punishment” and “ethnic cleansing” Israel’s decision to impose a closure on the West Bank for the duration of Purim, between Tuesday night and Saturday night.

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