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Middle East

Fatah calls for protests against US VP Mike Pence’s trip to Jerusalem

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 12:11am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 12:11am

The Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called for demonstrations next week when US Vice-President Mike Pence visits Jerusalem, after Washington’s policy shift on the city.

Breaking with decades of US policy, US President Donald Trump announced on December 6 his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that he would move the US embassy to the city.

The move was condemned globally and sparked angry protests across Arab and Muslim countries, as well as deadly clashes in the occupied territories between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

It also prompted Abbas to cancel a meeting with Pence, who arrives on Wednesday in Jerusalem, and warn that Washington no longer had a role to play in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Fatah called for a day of “protests” on Wednesday near Jerusalem and the Old City “against the visit of the American vice-president and Trump’s decision” to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a statement said.

The call to protest came after thousands of Palestinians took part in funerals for two of four men killed on Friday in clashes with Israeli forces during protests in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

Leaders of the main militant factions urged protesters to keep alive their intifada, or uprising, against Israel.

“We are heading to Jerusalem,” they chanted, waving Palestinian flags.

After Friday’s demonstrations, many headed to the border, with some young men loading donkey carts with tires to burn. Israeli forces used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to keep protesters away.

Two demonstrators were shot dead in clashes along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which identified one as a disabled 29-year-old who had previously lost his legs. The Israeli military said it had fired “selectively towards main instigators”.

In Ramallah, a man stabbed an Israeli police officer twice and was shot, police said. A video circulated online showed the young man backing away before officers opened fire. Soldiers and paramedics approach him, then scatter, apparently having spotted what appeared to be a suicide belt. Police said they were investigating whether the device was real.

Another Palestinian died of injuries sustained in clashes near Jerusalem, according to Associated Press reports.

Mourners chanted anti-Trump slogans and masked men fired into the air during one of the ceremonies in the village of Beit Ula, located between Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Funerals were also held for the two other Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, where the enclave’s Islamist Hamas rulers had on Friday called for a “day of rage”.

Additional reporting by The Washington Post