Protests have erupted across the Middle East after Donald Trump made the historic and highly controversial move to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In a ground-breaking speech at the White House, the president ended decades of US neutrality on Jerusalem and promised to relocate the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
The move sparked fury among Palestinians, who immediately took to the streets in protest at a decision that they claim shatters hopes for peace in the war-torn region.
Jerusalem is regarded as a capital by both Israel and Palestine, making it the highly combustible centre of the decades-long Israeli-Arab conflict.
Defying worldwide warnings, Mr Trump insisted that after repeated peace failures it was time for a new approach.
“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” he said.
Following the speech, Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – areas occupied by Israel – began protests by burning flags, pictures and chanting anti-American slogans.
In Gaza – the thin coastal strip cut off by Israel – groups were also pictured setting fire to American flags.
In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Christmas tree lights were switched off in protest outside the Church of the Nativity, seen by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus.
Protesters also took to the streets in Amman, the capital of neighbouring Jordan, where Palestinian refugees in the Baqqa refugee camp denounced Mr Trump’s actions. Similar displays were seen in Egypt’s capital Cairo.
Meanwhile, Palestinian factions agreed to a general strike and midday rallies on Thursday.
The Palestinian education ministry declared a day off and urged teachers as well as high school and university students to take part in the planned rallies in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Palestinian areas in Jerusalem.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out in praise of Mr Trump’s speech, but no other world government lent its support.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US shift is a boost for extremist groups that want religious war and signals American withdrawal from being a peace mediator.
Theresa May she disagreed with the move and described Mr Trump’s actions as “unhelpful”.
She said: “Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.”
Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a reckless threat to peace.
“The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict.” (Evening Standard)