Gazans burn US, Israeli flags ahead of Trump recognition of Jerusalem
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Gazans burn US, Israeli flags ahead of Trump recognition of Jerusalem

Protesters say holy city is their 'eternal capital' and a 'red line'; Hamas terror group calls for more demonstrations in coming days

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip rallied Wednesday against US President Donald Trump’s imminent announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The demonstration on the streets of Gaza City was organized by several Palestinian factions and terror groups that called for Palestinian unity in response to Trump’s expected announcement, which would upend decades of US policy regarding the city.

The protesters burned American and Israeli flags.

They also waved Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming Jerusalem as “our eternal capital” and calling it a “red line.”

The announcement will mark a major milestone for Israel’s efforts to gain international legitimacy for its claims to Jerusalem. Israel calls Jerusalem its undivided capital, but the international community has refrained from recognizing it as such pending final status negotiations with the Palestinians, who seek the eastern half of the city as their own seat of power in a future state.

A picture shows the exterior of the US embassy in Tel Aviv on December 6, 2017. (ACK GUEZ/AFP)

Hamas, which controls Gaza and which the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist organization, also called for more protests over the coming days.

Hamas official Salah Bardawil said the Palestinians were “on a dangerous crossroad today; we either remain or perish.” He added that “Trump or anyone thinking that our people, nation and resistance are unable to push back his plans is wrong.”

Hamas’ politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh told Al-Jazeera TV that “our Palestinian people will have a suitable response. As a people, we cannot accept this American pattern.”

However, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Trump’s expected recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is bound to “destroy the peace process and the two-state solution.”

Hamdallah met with European diplomats on Wednesday and urged European countries to recognize a state of Palestine on the lands captured by Israel in 1967.

The UN General Assembly upgraded Palestine to a nonmember state in 2012, but influential countries in Western Europe have not individually recognized “Palestine.”

The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as a capital. Israel’s government rejects partition of the city.

Hamdallah told the diplomats that the expected US shift on Jerusalem “will fuel conflict and increase violence in the entire region.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is to convene advisers after the announcement Wednesday to decide on a way forward.

Abbas’s Fatah party has not yet declared protests, but has told Palestinians to be ready for developments should Trump declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

US President Donald Trump at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, December 5, 2017. (SAUL LOEB/AFP)

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in Brussels ahead of Trump’s announcement, said he doesn’t want to discuss any decision before the US president makes his declaration. But he said people should “listen carefully” to Trump’s speech in its entirety.

Tillerson said Trump is “very committed” to the peace process. He said the team led by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is working “very diligently” to achieve it.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could be viewed as America discarding its longstanding neutrality and siding with Israel at a time that Kushner has been trying to midwife a new peace process into existence. Trump, too, has spoken of his desire for a “deal of the century” that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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