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Hamas Haniya leader calls for new ‘intifada’

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VP Mike Pence said Wednesday that President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is part of his resolve to honor the promises made to the American people. Pence spoke at the Jack Kemp Foundation’s annual dinner in Washington . (Dec. 6)
AP

The leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas called Thursday for a new “intifada” or uprising against Israel after President Trump said the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin moving its embassy to the city. 

The encouragement to revolt came as clashes between hundreds of Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops erupted across the West Bank on Thursday while demonstrators in Gaza burned posters of President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of “three days of rage” that started Wednesday. 

Trump’s controversial decision upended decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem and countered long-standing international assurances to the Palestinians that the fate of the city, claimed by Israelis and Palestinians, would be determined in negotiations.

In a news conference in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the group’s chief, Ismail Haniya, said that Washington’s decision to reverse its policy amounted to a “war declaration against Palestinians” that “killed” the Israel-Palestinian peace process. 

“We have given instruction to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be fully ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger that threatens Jerusalem and threatens Palestine,” he said.

Haniya said the uprising should start Friday. “We want the uprising to last and continue to let Trump and the occupation regret this decision,” he said.  

There were no serious casualties reported in Thursday’s clashes, but Friday, the Muslim holy day, could provide an important test when Palestinians gather for mass prayers.

Staunch U.S. allies France and the United Kingdom have condemned Trump’s decision and Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, called it “irresponsible.” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned it would throw “the region into a ring of fire.”

The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet for talks and a briefing Friday amid the international outcry over the policy change. 

More: Trump’s Jerusalem plan signals to Palestinians: less you give up, more you lose

Israel, the U.S. and the European Union consider Hamas either wholly or in part to be a terrorist organization. The group killed hundreds of Israelis during the Second Intifada, an armed uprising against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the early 2000s. Previous Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat led the First Intifada from 1987 to 1993. Hamas is currently locked in a feud with Fatah, the Palestinian nationalist movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas was expected to travel to Jordan on Thursday to meet with King Abdullah II. The monarch, who enjoys good relations with the U.S., is seen as Abbas’ closest Arab ally, and the two leaders might try to coordinate a response to Trump’s policy change.

On Wednesday, Abbas said in an address that Washington’s move was a “reward to Israel” that encourages Israel’s “continued occupation” of Palestinian areas.  

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There’s a reason the U.S. Embassy in Israel has been located in Tel Aviv for decades. Here’s why moving it to Jerusalem is raising concerns across the Middle East and beyond.
USA TODAY

It remains unclear how destructive any new intifada from Hamas might be. The group’s ability to carry out attacks is now more limited after Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip. Many of Hamas’ supporters in the West Bank also have been arrested.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Trump had “bound himself forever” to the history of Jerusalem by recognizing the city as Israel’s capital. He also claimed that other nations would follow suit and make a similar recognition. 

Meanwhile, Israel’s military said it would deploy additional troops to the West Bank ahead of Friday, when more mass Palestinian protests are anticipated.

More: Pence: Under Trump, ‘America Stands with Israel’

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President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump’s shift signals U.S. withdrawal from being a peace mediator. (Dec. 6)
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