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US Jerusalem Consulate in fresh warning to its citizens in wake of Trump speech

Americans told to avoid Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza amid fear US interests could be targeted for attacks

A picture taken on December 6, 2017, shows a giant US flag screened alongside Israel's national flag by the Jerusalem municipality on the walls of the Old City. (AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)
A picture taken on December 6, 2017, shows a giant US flag screened alongside Israel's national flag by the Jerusalem municipality on the walls of the Old City. (AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)

The United States issued a fresh warning to its citizens in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza to exercise extreme caution, saying they could be targeted by those opposed to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A statement issued Friday by the US Consulate in Jerusalem called on Americans to “maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness in light of the current environment.”

The statement warned that those opposed to the declaration “may target US government facilities, US private interests, and US citizens.”

“Potential targets include public events, such as demonstrations, holiday events, and celebratory gatherings; hotels, clubs, and restaurants popular with US citizens; places of worship; schools; shopping malls, and markets; tourism infrastructure; public transportation, and airports,” the statement said.

A ban on US government employees traveling to Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank issued earlier in the week also remains in effect.

The warning comes after US embassies in the Middle East and Europe issued warnings to Americans traveling or living there of the potential for violent protests after Trump’s Wednesday decision.

Within minutes of Trump’s announcement, the embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Germany, and Britain issued security alerts urging Americans to exercise vigilance and caution.

The US Embassy in Ankara said it expects protests to take place near its location, as well as the consulates in Istanbul and Adana.

The US Embassy in Amman, Jordan, said it would close to the public on Thursday and has banned employees from leaving the capital. The children of embassy employees have been told to stay home from school and all Americans there are advised to keep a low profile.

US embassies in Berlin, London, and Minsk, Belarus issued identical warnings.

To Israel’s delight, and despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared it was time for a new approach to Mideast peace after decades of failure in his Wednesday address.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” the president said.

He also said the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable.

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum after he delivered a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Establishing a Jerusalem embassy was a major campaign promise of Trump’s and one that officials said he had focused on in discussions with top advisers in recent weeks.

Trump later signed a waiver ensuring there will be no embassy move for at least another six months. But he also stressed that he directed the State Department to begin the process of moving the embassy as required by US law, however many years that might take. After his speech, he signed a proclamation to that effect.

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