Fatah vows fresh protests over Jerusalem move

Violence erupts at protest near US embassy in Beirut

16:36 December 10, 2017

RAMALLAH/BEIRUT: Fatah called on Palestinians to keep up their demonstrations over Washington’s policy shift on occupied Jerusalem as the movement confirmed its leader will refuse to meet with US Vice-President later this month in protest at the controversial decision.

After protests gripped the West Bank and Gaza for a third straight day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due in Paris on Sunday where demonstrators had rallied on the eve of his arrival.

Arab League ministers, in an emergency meeting in Cairo late Saturday, meanwhile urged Washington to rescind its decision on occupied Jerusalem.

Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags during a protest against US decision to recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Rabat, Morocco. (Reuters)

President Donald Trump’s decision on Wednesday to recognise occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital upended decades of American diplomacy, causing an overwhelming global diplomatic backlash.

Four Palestinians have now been killed and dozens wounded since Trump announced the new policy, which drew criticism from every other UN Security Council member at an emergency meeting on Friday.

In a statement Fatah urged Palestinians to “keep up confrontation and broaden it to all points where the Israeli [occupation] army is present” in the West Bank.

Israelis arrest a Palestinian protester during clashes in the West Bank town of Hebron. (AFP)

Its leader — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — also became the latest influential Arab figure to pull out of talks with Pence who will travel to the region later this month.

There have been fears of a much larger escalation of violence after Hamas leader Esmail Haniya called for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group both renewed that call on Saturday.

Protesters try to enter the United States embassy during a demonstration in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP)

Tens of thousands have also protested in Muslim and Arab countries, including Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia.

In Beirut, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water canons at protesters near the US Embassy in Lebanon on Sunday during a demonstration against Trump’s decision on occupied Jerusalem.

Protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, set fires in the street and threw projectiles towards security forces that had barricaded the main road to the US Embassy in the Awkar area north of Beirut.

Addressing the protesters, the head of the Lebanese Communist Party Hanna Gharib declared the United States “the enemy of Palestine” and the US Embassy “a symbol of imperialist aggression” that must be closed.

Protesters burnt US and Israeli flags.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory and say the status of the city should be left to be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

The government of Lebanon, which hosts about 450,000 Palestinian refugees, has condemned Trump’s decision. Lebanese President Michel Aoun last week called the move a threat to regional stability.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah on Thursday said it backed calls for a new Palestinian uprising against Israel in response to the US decision.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also called for a protest against the decision in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut on Monday.

The US decision is likely to impact domestic Palestinian politics, particularly between Abbas’s Fatah and the Islamist Hamas, now at a key stage in a fragile reconciliation process after a decade of bitter enmity.

Hamas, which violently seized Gaza from Fatah in 2017, is due to formally hand back power on Sunday.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said Saturday the group “reiterated its commitment to all that has been signed and agreed upon and the completion of the handover”.