JUDY WOODRUFF: Wednesday’s decision by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to move the U.S. Embassy there, has convulsed the Middle East. Today, protesters took to the streets throughout the region and beyond. Special correspondent Jane Ferguson is in Jerusalem JANE FERGUSON: As Palestinians left the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, they confronted Israeli security forces. A day of rage had been called by Palestinian leadership, and the anger on these ancient streets was clear. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel had shocked much of the Muslim world, and first among them, the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. MAN (through translator): Trump’s decision is intended to start a religious war, an unethical war, because Trump is biased to Israel. They say there is a peace process, but it is not. America is blessing Netanyahu. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. It is holy Islamic land. JANE FERGUSON: Protesters are clashing with Israeli soldiers here. They came out of the mosque chanting and walking through the Old City, and now violence has broken out here within a matter of seconds.
On these streets, there is growing frustration with decades of struggling for a country of their own. AHMAD BUDHARI, Political Analyst: Palestinians have tried everything. JANE FERGUSON: Political analyst Ahmad Budhari says after years of supporting an independent Palestinian state, the U.S. has now taken Israel’s side. AHMAD BUDHARI: But, in the end of the day, they have reached a point that they are not going to get their state, simply because America made a choice. The choice is that America is going to support Israel completely. JANE FERGUSON: But this Jewish settler in the Old City, who didn’t want to give his name, says it’s always been clear Jerusalem belongs to a Jewish homeland. MAN (through translator): With respect to the president of the United States, it’s a simple thing. It took the Americans a long time to understand, but it’s simple. It’s a thing that is clear to everyone that knows. JANE FERGUSON: Across the West Bank and in other Arab capitals, however, outrage boiled over.
Palestinians burned tires and images of President Trump, and threw rocks at Israeli troops, who responded with live gunfire, tear gas and rubber bullets. In Southern Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry says a 30-year-old man was shot dead in a skirmish with Israeli forces, the first death in protests since Mr. Trump’s announcement. And later in the day, Israeli’s military said it bombed militant targets in Gaza, in response to rockets fired from there at Israeli towns. Palestinians said 25 people were wounded, including six children. Leaders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas called again for an armed uprising, and terrorist groups like al-Qaida urged followers to carry out attacks against U.S. sites worldwide. MAN: We clearly disagree with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. JANE FERGUSON: The U.S. move also drew strong condemnation today at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Member nations in the region and Europe said the decision unnecessarily reignited conflict. RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations: Complicity must be recognized, that one party cannot continue to monopolize the peace process, especially not one that acts with bias in favor of the occupying power, at the expense of the law and the rights of the occupied people.
JANE FERGUSON: But U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley dismissed that criticism, saying the U.S. is still committed to helping negotiate peace. In turn, she blasted the U.N. NIKKI HALEY, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Israel will never be and should never be bullied into an agreement by the United Nations or by any collection of countries that have proven their disregard for Israel’s security.
JANE FERGUSON: Despite protests and clashes with the police here in Jerusalem, what we’re not seeing on the ground is a response to those calls for all-out intifada, or an uprising. However, on a larger scale and longer term, the fear is that Palestinians are moving closer to that option. Sari Nusseibeh is a Palestinian commentator and academic. He believes Mr. Trump’s announcement earlier this week applies pressure to the Israelis, too.
If the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues, and no Palestinian state is created, this would create a major identity challenge for Israel. SARI NUSSEIBEH, Palestinian Commentator: In that case, I think the Israelis will then end up being in a position where they will be dealing, in addition to the 20 percent Arab population in Israel, another four million Palestinians under their rule asking for equal rights, in what is supposedly a Jewish state.
JANE FERGUSON: There is no other place on earth more contested than Jerusalem, sacred to Christians, Muslims and Jews. SARI NUSSEIBEH: And it’s supposed to be the city that’s the gateway to the divine. So if you have that sort of angle, the spiritual angle that you hold dear to your heart, it’s a thing you can’t really do away with. It’s like tearing your inner spirit apart. JANE FERGUSON: As the sun set on the Holy City, a relative peace returned to its streets.
After hundreds of years of fighting over this sacred place, the only thing everyone here can agree on is that the peace will be temporary. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jane Ferguson in Jerusalem. .
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