A Palestinian protester is seen as smoke rises from burning tires during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah on December 8, 2017. Image Credit: Reuters


Palestinian ministry retracts statement saying second Gazan killed 

 The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza retracted an earlier statement on Friday saying a second man had been killed in clashes with Israeli forces, explaining he was instead in critical condition.

The man was shot in the head Friday in clashes prompted by US President Donald Trump's planned embassy move, with the health ministry in Gaza announcing he had died.

It later retracted the statement, noting he was in "very critical" condition. Another man was killed in clashes in southern Gaza earlier Friday, the first death in the protests against Trump's move.


Palestinian shot dead by Israeli army

A Palestinian was shot dead in Gaza by the Israeli army on Friday, the health ministry said, the first person killed in clashes over US President Donald Trump's planned embassy move.

The health ministry confirmed Mahmoud Al Masri, 30, was killed in clashes along the Israeli-Gaza border.

The Israeli army confirmed it had shot two people along the border, accusing them of being "main instigators" of "violent riots."

Jerusalem embassy move probably not for 2 years

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem would probably not take place for at least two years.

"This is not something that is going to happen this year or probably not next year but the president does want us to move in a very concrete, very steadfast way," Tillerson said after talks in Paris with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Clashes in Jerusalem, West Bank  

Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces on Friday in occupied Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank after calls for a "day of rage" over US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Clashes and scuffles broke out in Jerusalem's Old City as well as in other locations, including Hebron, Bethlehem and the Nablus area in the West Bank, after the Friday prayers, but the unrest was limited so far.

Palestinians in some areas threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, AFP journalists reported.

In Jerusalem's Old City, about 50 police pushed back some 200 demonstrators while kicking and hitting them with their batons.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported one person wounded from live fire and 12 from rubber bullets so far.

Thousands march in Istanbul 

Thousands  marched after Friday prayers in Istanbul in an angry protest at the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an AFP correspondent said.

Chanting slogans including "Jerusalem is ours and will remain so!" and "down with America, down with Israel", the protesters marched after prayers at the Ottoman Fatih mosque in the centre of Istanbul, the correspondent added.

Malaysians protest outside US embassy

Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority Malaysia demonstrated Friday outside the US embassy over President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, denouncing it as a "slap in the face" for Muslims worldwide.

Some 5,000 demonstrators marched on the Kuala Lumpur mission after the main weekly Muslim prayers in a nearby mosque, chanting and waving banners that read "Hands off Jerusalem" and "Down USA President Trump".

Trump's announcement has been met by an almost universal diplomatic backlash, sparked Palestinian protests, sporadic clashes with Israeli security forces and a call for a new intifada from Hamas's leader.

The status of Jerusalem is deeply sensitive for Muslims, and protesters have started taking to the streets in cities across the world following the policy shift.

The protesters in Kuala Lumpur were led by Khairy Jamaluddin, the sports minister and head of ruling party UMNO's youth wing, who accused of Trump of having made "an illegal announcement".

Police said 5,000 demonstrators took part. The protest was peaceful bar some pushing between protesters and security officials.

Protests in Indonesia

In neighbouring Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, several hundred people demonstrated outside the US embassy in the capital Jakarta, carrying placards that said "No to Trump" and unfurling a large Palestinian flag.

Both Indonesia and Malaysia are staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause and solidarity protests are not uncommon.

US Jerusalem move 'new challenge to regional stability': Lebanese PM

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday criticised US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying it posed a new challenge to the already tense Middle East.

"It complicates the peace process even more (between Israel and the Palestinians) and creates a new challenge to regional security," he said at a meeting in Paris. "In the name of the Lebanese people, I can only repeat our rejection of this decision."

Israel deployed hundreds of additional police officers on Friday following Palestinian calls for protests after the main weekly Muslim prayers against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"Several hundred additional police and border police have been deployed inside and in the vicinity of the Old City," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

The situation was calm early Friday in Jerusalem's Old City, the location of the Al Aqsa mosque compound.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, was calling for a "day of rage" on Friday and protests were expected over Trump's move on Wednesday recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The disputed city lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides seeing it as their capital.

World slams Trump Jerusalem move

 Across the world condemnations have been sounded over Washington’s recognition of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Palestinians said the move meant that the US could no longer play the role as a peace mediator.

The European Union and United Nations also voiced alarm at US President Donald Trump’s decision and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

Major US allies came out against Trump’s reversal of decades of US and broad international policy on Occupied Jerusalem.

France rejected the “unilateral” decision while appealing for calm in the region.

Britain said the move would not help peace efforts and Occupied Jerusalem should ultimately be shared by Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Opinion: Jerusalem move is the debacle of the century

Germany said Jerusalem’s status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution.

Israel, by contrast, applauded Trump’s move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a pre-recorded video message that it was “an important step towards peace” and it was “our goal from Israel’s first day”.

He added that any peace accord with the Palestinians would have to include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and he urged other countries to follow Trump’s example.

Trump upended decades of US policy in defiance of warnings from around the world that the gesture risks aggravating conflict in the tinderbox Middle East.

The status of Jerusalem is home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

Israel deems Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital dating to antiquity, and its status is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a pre-recorded speech, said Occupied Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine” and that Trump’s move was “tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator.”

The last round of US-brokered talks foundered in 2014 over issues including Israeli colony expansion in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which has dominated Gaza since soon after Israel ended a 38-year occupation in 2005, said Trump had committed a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people”.

Hamas urged Arabs and Muslims to “undermine US interests in the region” and to “shun Israel”.

Protests broke out in parts of Jordan’s capital Amman inhabited by Palestinian refugees, with youths chanting anti-American slogans. I

n the Baqaa refugee camp on Amman’s outskirts, hundreds roamed the streets denouncing Trump and urging Jordan to scrap its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

“Down with America...America is the mother of terror,” they chanted.

Angry Palestinians switched off Christmas lights at Jesus’ traditional birthplace in the Occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem and in Ramallah.

A tree adorned with lights outside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe Jesus was born, and another in Ramallah, next to the grave of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, were plunged into darkness.

Skirmishes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli occupation soldiers broke out Thursday in Ramallah and other places in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority called for a general strike in Palestinian cities and, in Gaza, the Islamist Hamas movement urged its followers to ignite a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel.

At a checkpoint near Ramallah, Israeli forces fired on hundreds of Palestinian protesters gathering to air their anger over Trump’s statement.

“This will be bad,” said an ambulance driver.

Clashes also erupted in Occupied East Jerusalem and at the border fence between Israel and Gaza. There were early reports of injuries.

The Saudi Royal Court issued a statement saying that the kingdom followed “with deep sorrow” Trump’s decision and warned of “dangerous consequences”.

The statement described the move as “a big step back in efforts to advance the peace process”, and urged the US administration to reverse its decision and adhere to international will.

Egypt, which forged the first Arab peace deal with Israel in 1979, brushed off Trump’s decision and said it did not change Jerusalem’s true status.

Jordan said Trump’s action was “legally null” because it consolidated Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Trump’s Jerusalem decision was dangerous and threatened the credibility of the United States as a broker of Middle East peace. He said the move would put back the peace process by decades and threatened regional stability and perhaps global stability.

A few hundred protesters gathered outside the US consulate in Istanbul, a Reuters cameraman at the scene said. The protest was largely peaceful, though some of the demonstrators threw coins and other objects at the consulate.

In Southeast Asia, the leaders of Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia denounced Trump’s action.

“This can rock global security and stability,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo, leader of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, told a news conference in which he called for the United States to reconsider its decision.

British Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed with Trump’s embrace of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before a final-status agreement as this was unlikely to help nurture peace in the region, her spokesman said.

However, May’s spokesman welcomed Trump’s stated wish to end the conflict and his acknowledgement that the final status of Occupied Jerusalem, including boundaries within the city, must be subject to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not support Trump’s “unilateral” move.

“The status of Jerusalem is a question of international security that concerns the entire international community. The status of Jerusalem must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in the framework of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations,” Macron told reporters in Algiers.

“France and Europe are attached to a two-state solution - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security within recognised international borders with Jerusalem the capital of both states,” he said.

“For now, I urge for calm and for everyone to be responsible. We must avoid at all costs avoid violence and foster dialogue,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was no alternative to a two-state solution and Occupied Jerusalem was a final-status matter only to be settled through direct talks.

“I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said.

“I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations.”