Hamas: Israel has no land to claim ‘capital’
The Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas says Israel has “no land” and naturally no right to designate “a capital” city. The announcement came shortly before US President Donald Trump’s expected declaration of the recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri tweeted the remark on Wednesday, shortly after Trump reportedly “informed” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of his intention to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
Trump is expected to declare that the US would recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” in a speech later on Wednesday, in what would most likely be a moment of euphoria for Israeli officials.
But the Palestinians, and the rest of the world, are opposed to such recognition. The Palestinians want Jerusalem al-Quds, which is the site of Islam’s third holiest site, as part of a future Palestinian state.
Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman, added that such recognition “would harm Israel” and ultimately bring it “regret.”
‘Crossing every red line’
On Tuesday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh warned the United States that the potential relocation of the US embassy would cross “every red line.”
In a statement addressed to world Muslim leaders, Haniya said, “Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is a dangerous escalation and provides cover for the extremist government of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to carry out its plan to Judaize the city of Jerusalem.”
In a separate statement, Hamas called for Palestinians to “make Friday a day of rage against the occupation, rejecting moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing it as the capital of the Zionist entity.” It called on young people in the West Bank to rise up and “respond to the American decision that targets our Jerusalem in every possible way.”
Trump’s pictures set on fire
People, meanwhile, rallied in the city of Bethlehem in the south of the Israeli -occupied West Bank to protest the prospect, setting fire to pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas has also warned Trump of the “dangerous consequences of such a decision.”
Tel Aviv has long been building settlements deep into Palestinian territory to make the prospect of a Palestinian state less likely. It has been supported in that move by the Trump administration.
Israel alerts forces
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said Israeli forces had been placed on alert for a potential escalation of the already-tense situation in the Palestinian territories.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers reportedly traveled to the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank to visit Joseph’s Tomb on Wednesday. Violent confrontations were also reported around the site between Palestinian youths and the Israeli forces, who fired sound bombs and teargas canisters at the protesters.
Separately, Palestinian al-Aqsa television network said dozens of Israeli forces had stormed the village of Yabod in the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank, raiding houses and beating residents.
Palestinian Shehab News Agency cited American media outlets as reporting that the US had deployed Marines to its embassies in the region to avoid incidents following the potential announcement.
Chorus of international outcry
Various world leaders have also raised concern about the controversial American plan.
Most recently, the United Nations (UN) envoy for the Middle East negotiation process said on Wednesday that al-Quds’ future status had to be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians and warned of the repercussions of any action over the city.
“The [UN] secretary general has spoken many times on this issue… and he has said that we all have to be very careful with the actions we take because of the repercussions of these actions,” Nickolay Mladenov told a conference. “The future of Jerusalem is something that needs to be negotiated with Israel, with the Palestinians, sitting side by side directly in negotiations.”
China warned that Trump’s plan could fuel tensions in the region.
“We are concerned about the possible escalation of tensions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing. “All relevant parties should bear regional peace and tranquility in mind, be cautious in words and deeds, avoid impacting the foundation for the settlement of the issue of Palestine, and avoid causing new confrontation in the region.”
Also in reaction, Pope Francis called for al-Quds’ “status quo” to be respected.
The pontiff expressed his hope for “peace and prosperity” for the Palestinian people during a scheduled meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was concerned about reports that Trump would recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”
“Let’s wait and see what the president says exactly. But, you know, we view the reports that we have heard with concern because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he told reporters in Brussels.
The Kremlin said Russia was concerned that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authorities could be aggravated further by the embassy plan.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added however that “we would not discuss decisions that have not been taken yet.”
In the harshest reaction so far, Turkey threatened to cut ties with Israel if the US carried out the recognition.
Later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on December 13 to discuss the US plan.
Erdogan called for the meeting “in order to display joint action among Islamic countries,” presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in the Turkish capital.
Ankara currently holds the chairmanship of the OIC.
Jordan had also said earlier that it planned to convene an emergency meeting of the OIC on how to face the “dangerous” consequences of Trump’s decision.
Germany’s foreign minister warned that any US move toward such recognition would be dangerous and could deepen the Middle East conflict.
Sigmar Gabriel said such a move “does not calm a conflict, rather it fuels it even more” and “would be a very dangerous development.”
Gabriel told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels that, “It’s in everyone’s interest that this does not happen.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also said he was concerned about the potential relocation during a phone call with Trump.
And the European Union warned of the “serious repercussions” of the prospect.
Jordan and the Palestinians request Arab League meeting
The regional Arab League grouping said Jordan and the Palestinians had requested an emergency meeting of the body’s foreign ministers to discuss the US scheme.
The meeting is likely to be convened on Saturday, a diplomatic source told AFP.