The Latest: Palestinians in Gaza burn US, Israel flags
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday (all times local):
Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza have rallied against President Donald Trump’s imminent announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
Wednesday’s demonstration on the streets of Gaza City was organized by different Palestinian factions and militant groups which called for Palestinian unity in response to Trump’s expected announcement.
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.”
Hamas, the militant group that 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.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump administration continues to believe there’s “a very good opportunity” to achieve Middle East peace despite President Donald Trump’s impending moves on Jerusalem.
Tillerson is speaking in Brussels ahead of Trump’s announcement that he’s declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Tillerson says he doesn’t want to discuss any decision before Trump announces it himself. But he says people should “listen carefully” to Trump’s speech in its entirety.
Tillerson says Trump is “very committed” to the peace process. He says the team led by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is working “very diligently” to achieve it.
The leader of Israel’s main opposition party says he hopes President Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem will be accompanied by concrete confidence-building measures with the Palestinians.
Avi Gabbay, head of Israel’s Labor Party, spoke to The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday, ahead of Trump’s anticipated announcement.
Gabbay says that while recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is important, it would be “much better if together with this declaration there would be more steps to assist us to build some confidence with the Palestinians in order to restart the peace process.”
Pakistan’s ruling party has criticized President Donald Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it will ignite violence in the world.
Raja Zafarul Haq, chairman of the Pakistan Muslim League party, urged for speedy pressure on Trump to “refrain from complicating the Palestine issue instead taking steps to resolve it.”
Firebrand cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, known as the “Father of the Taliban,” described Trump as an “evil man” and urged the Muslim world to stop the U.S. leader from insulting Palestinians.
Prominent militant and suspected mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, Hafiz Saeed, recently released from house arrest in Pakistan, also condemned Trump’s planned announcement.
The Palestinian prime minister says President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is bound to “destroy the peace process and the two-state solution.”
Rami 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 U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized such a state in 2012, but influential countries in Western Europe have not individually recognized “Palestine.”
The Palestinians seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as a capital. Israel’s government rejects partition of the city.
Hamdallah told the diplomats that the expected U.S. shift on Jerusalem “will fuel conflict and increase violence in the entire region.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to convene advisers after Trump’s expected announcement Wednesday to decide on a way forward.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman says the Turkish leader is inviting leaders of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to an extraordinary meeting to discuss Jerusalem’s status next week.
Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Wednesday that the meeting, planned for Dec. 13, will give the opportunity for Muslim countries leaders to act together and coordinate following President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Kalin also said that Turkey calls on the U.S. administration to “immediately turn away from this grave mistake that will virtually eliminate the fragile Middle East peace process.”
Erdogan said on Tuesday that Jerusalem was a “red line” for Muslims and could lead Turkey to cut diplomatic ties with Israel.
The Kremlin is also concerned about President Donald Trump’s expected announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The move could upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests in the Middle East where the Arab Muslim majority is strongly opposed to the idea.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the “the situation is not easy.”
He said Putin discussed the issue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on Tuesday and expressed his concern about “a possible deterioration.”
Peskov said, however, that the Kremlin would refrain from commenting a decision that has not been announced yet.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel isn’t likely to be able to sign peace treaties with Arab states without a deal with the Palestinians, but asserts that it can enjoy covert ties with many of them.
Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference and was notably silent on the issue of President Donald Trump’s anticipated announcement later in the day recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The prime minister said that while relations with Arab states have thawed, “it doesn’t mean that we can make peace treaties yet with the Arab world without some kind of movement with the Palestinians.”
He says: “Peace treaties, no, everything else below that, yes, and it’s happening.”
A senior Palestinian official says President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital means that “the peace process is finished” because Washington “has already pre-empted the outcome.”
Under an international consensus backed by successive U.S. presidents, Jerusalem’s fate is to be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Palestinians seek a capital in east Jerusalem, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967. Unlike its predecessors, the current Israeli government rejects partition of the city.
Hanan Ashrawi warned Wednesday that a U.S. shift on Jerusalem is a dangerous “game changer.”
Trump has promised a Mideast deal, but Ashrawi says that “there is no way that there can be talks with the Americans.”
Ashrawi says the Palestinian leadership is to hold consultations soon and decide on the next move.
Britain’s top diplomat is calling on the U.S. administration to present a Mideast peace plan quickly following President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Brussels.
He said, speaking alongside Tillerson, that the U.K. will have to “wait and see” what Trump says in his speech later on Wednesday.
But Johnson says the decision clearly “makes it more important than ever that the long-awaited American proposals on the Middle East peace process are now brought forward.”
He says that should happen “as a matter of priority.”
Tillerson did not comment on the president’s decision but says it hasn’t been a major topic with fellow diplomats during his meetings this week at NATO headquarters.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned President Donald Trump’s imminent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The state TV’s website quotes Khamenei as saying that “when they (U.S.) claim that they want to declare Jerusalem as the capital of occupied Palestine, it shows their inability. ”
He also added that he is convinced “the victory will ultimately be for the Islamic nation and Palestine” and that “the Palestinian people will be victorious” in their struggle.
Iran does not recognize Israel, and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.
China has expressed concerns over “possible aggravation of regional tensions” in response to the expected U.S. announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday the China would monitor developments on the issue.
He says the “issue of Jerusalem’s status is complicated and sensitive” and that “all sides should focus on regional peace and tranquility, act with caution, and avoid sabotaging the foundation for the settlement of Palestinian issues and triggering new confrontation in the region.”
China has provided the Palestinians with financial and technical aid. It also has built stronger ties with Israel, providing a large market for Israeli technology.
China says it views both Israel and the Palestinians as “important partners” in its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a mammoth Chinese-funded push to develop transport routes including ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry says President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to recognize of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “dangerous step” that will fuel global conflict.
The ministry in Damascus issued a statement on Wednesday calling Trump’s imminent move the “culmination of the crime of the seizing of Palestine and the displacement of the Palestinian people.”
It also urged Arab states to stop normalizing relations with Israel.
Israel has mainly stayed out of the conflict in Syria, though it has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Two leading Lebanese newspapers have issued front page rebukes to President Donald Trump over his expected announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The An-Nahar compares the U.S. president to the late British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who a hundred years ago famously promised Palestine as a national home to the Jewish People, in what is known as the Balfour declaration.
The paper’s Wednesday headline reads: “Trump, Balfour of the century, gifts Jerusalem to Israel.”
The English-language Daily Star newspaper has published a full-page photo of Old City of Jerusalem capped by the Dome of the Rock beneath the headline: “No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of PALESTINE.”
Pope Francis is calling for the status quo of Jerusalem to be respected and for “wisdom and prudence” to prevail to avoid further conflict.
Francis made the appeal during his weekly Wednesday audience, ahead of the expected U.S. announcement by President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Francis said he was “profoundly concerned” about recent developments, and declared Jerusalem a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a “special vocation for peace.”
He appealed “that everyone respects the status quo of the city” according to U.N. resolutions.
He says: “I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the “whole world is against” President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and eventually move the U.S. Embassy there.
Cavusoglu’s remarks came just before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.
He says that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a “grave mistake.”
Cavusoglu says such a move would “not bring any stability, peace but rather chaos and instability.”
The Turkish diplomat says the whole world is reacting, not just the Muslim world. He says he’s raised the issue with Tillerson in the past and plans to do so again.
Pope Francis has called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land and expressed his hope for “peace and prosperity” for the Palestinian people, ahead of the expected announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Francis made the comments on Wednesday during a previously scheduled meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders. The Vatican says it was coincidental that the audience fell on the same day as the U.S. announcement.
In his remarks, Francis said the Holy Land was the “land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind.”
He said: “The primary condition of that dialogue is reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be.”
Israel’s justice minister says she welcomes Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem and encourages him to “move the embassy de facto” to Jerusalem.
Ayelet Shaked told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday that Trump has to go beyond the paperwork stage and not be intimidated by Arab threats of violence.
Shaked says: “I wouldn’t be worried about this event or the other. If Arab leaders take steps to prevent unrest, there won’t be any unrest.”
She spoke ahead of a speech at the conference by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
President Trump is slated to make an announcement about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which has garnered widespread condemnation from the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, later on Wednesday.
Britain’s foreign secretary is expressing concern about reports that U.S. President Donald Trump might recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Boris Johnson says: “Let’s wait and see what the president says exactly, but we view the reports that we’ve heard with concern.”
He told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday that Britain thinks “Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians — a negotiated settlement that we want to see.”
Johnson added: “We have no plans ourselves to move our embassy.”
Pope Francis has spoken with the Palestinian leader about the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and is meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and academic leaders.
Vatican officials say Wednesday’s meeting was organized well in advance by the Vatican’s interreligious dialogue office, and that it was purely coincidental that it fell on the same day as the U.S. announcement, expected in the early afternoon in Washington.
The Vatican says Francis spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after President Donald Trump called Abbas to advise him of his decision. The call came at Abbas’ initiative.
The Vatican has long sought an internationally guaranteed status for Jerusalem that safeguards its sacred character for Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Turkey’s prime minister says President Donald Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will make the region’s problems “unresolvable.”
U.S. officials have told The Associated Press the announcement would come on Wednesday and would include instructions for the State Department to begin moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke about the possibility at a news conference with South Korean officials in Seoul.
Yildirim said it was vital for the Middle Eastern region and for global peace that Trump not make such an announcement.
Jerusalem is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims and is a contentious part of Israel-Palestinian negotiations.
The prime minister said a declaration could cause religious clashes and destroy efforts toward formation of a Palestinian state.
President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.
U.S. officials say Trump will also instruct the State Department on Wednesday to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalized first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least 3 or 4 years, presuming there is no future change in U.S. policy.
The U.S. officials spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to publicly preview Trump’s announcement.