Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in Paris on Saturday to protest the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.
The demonstrators also decried the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last week, reversing years of US government policy.
The demonstrators, holding Palestinian flags and placards urging a boycott of Israel, gathered at the Place de la République in central Paris, where they were met with a smaller group of pro-Israel protesters.
The demonstrators and counter-demonstrators shouted slogans at each other but were kept far apart.
There were also pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Istanbul and Rome on Saturday.
Amid the posters at the pro-Palestinian protest was a sign that said Trump and Netanyahu marked “the return of the Nazis,” and another calling them “war mongers.” The protest was organized by the groups EuroPalestine and France Palestine Solidarité. Several hundred protesters also gathered in Lyon, AFP reported.
Netanyahu is expected in Paris and Brussels during the trip. In addition to Macron, he is to meet with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and all 28 foreign ministers of EU member states.
— MR TEKKEN APOCALYPSE (@C03Houalid) December 9, 2017
Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was not well received in western European capitals. Macron has said that France “does not approve” of Trump’s policy on Jerusalem, and Mogherini indicated a day after Trump’s speech announcing the decision that it had “the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.”
On Friday, a source in the Netanyahu government said the prime minister was headed to the “lion’s den” in Paris and Brussels to confront Western European positions on Israel.
The source said Netanyahu had spoken to Trump three times in the days before the Wednesday speech, and discussed with him the “importance” of recognizing Jerusalem.
Trump on Wednesday defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality. The move was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.
Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
— Charles Baudry (@CharlesBaudry) December 9, 2017
In the wake of the decision, protests broke out across much of the Muslim world as well as in London, Berlin, Rome. Palestinians held violent protests across the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, and smaller protests on Saturday.
In Istanbul on Saturday, protesters rallied holding Turkish and Palestinian flags, and chanted anti-US slogans.
Hundreds of Palestinians and their supporters rallied in Rome Saturday outside the US Embassy. The protest also drew American citizens.
Some Italian demonstrators expressed dismay that Italy’s top cycling race Giro d’Italia” will start next year in Jerusalem. Other protesters held Palestinian flags, and some shouted slogans against Israel. One participant held a sign reading, “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine.”
On Friday, amid the Palestinian “Day of Rage,” the Paris branch of the far-left Antifa organization appeared to call for Israel’s destruction and for violent protests in the city.
Noting that CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, “is asking President Emmanuel Macron to also recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, we can strike a blow against the imperialist West from within the belly of the beast,” the Paris Antifa group wrote in a call on Facebook, inviting supporters to a demonstration at Republique square on Saturday “against the colonization of Jerusalem.”
The invitation ended with the words: “Al Quds belongs to the Palestinians, Palestine stretches from the sea to the Jordan River.”
In 2014, dozens of Arab men besieged 150 congregants at a Paris synagogue during a wave of riots over Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip against the Hamas terror group.