Palestinians call general strike, rallies to protest Trump Jerusalem move

Donald Trump-Jerusalem

Donald Trump-Jerusalem

What we're hearing: Trump believes that even if other world leaders don't like the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and start the process of moving the U.S. embassy to the city, they will nevertheless respect him for doing what he said he would do.

Senior U.S. officials said Trump asked King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Jordan's King Abdullah II to help in lobbying the Palestinians to refrain from violence and return to peace talks.

During a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned the US against moving the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying it could jeopardize the peace process in the region.

Israel considers the city its "united" capital, following the occupation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan.The status of the city is an extremely sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians have long desired their own state - with its capital in Jerusalem.

"Mr Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims", Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a raucous televised speech on Tuesday, echoing alarm expressed by Palestinian and Arab leaders. "It is in everyone's interest that this does not happen".

Turkey's foreign ministry responded to the move, calling it irresponsible and illegal.

"It will take some time to find a site, to address security concerns, design a new facility, fund a new facility and build it", the official said, indicating that the move would not be immediate. But they quickly reneged upon taking office and assuming the burden of war and peace.

The move already impacted the stock market in far away Japan, which closed down nearly two percent Wednesday in part over concerns on the fate of Jerusalem.

"It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel", Trump said, urging calm and "the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world", said his spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, were spotted burning photographs of Donald Trump and holding signs reading "Move the embassy to your country, not ours", and "Jerusalem, Palestine's heart, is not up to negotiations".

Jordan condemned the US President's move as amounting to a violation of international law and the UN charter.

"Israel is duty bound to express its satisfaction and joy, and, yes, this is their capital and they want this recognition", said Yossi Mekelberg, a Middle East expert at the Britain-based Chatham House.

A senior administration official said Trump would make the announcement - ignoring frantic warnings from US allies in the region and around the world - at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) from the White House.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also blasted Washington's decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem as a display of incompetence. The declaration calls into question seven decades of deliberate diplomatic ambiguity about the final status of a holy city vociferously claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.

"When you look at a place that is on the verge of an explosion, you do not introduce a flame", said Hanan Ashrawi, who sits on the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee. Trump is "upending decades of international consensus over this for an end that no one quite can see".

Despite urgent appeals from Arab and European leaders and the risk of anti-American protests and violence, Trump declared that he was ending an approach that for decades has failed to advance the prospects for peace.

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

A waiver has been invoked by successive US presidents, postponing the move on grounds of "national security" once every six months, meaning the law has never taken effect.

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