Violence continues after Trump decision on Jerusalem

Israeli security guard in critical condition after Palestinian man stabs him in city

Palestinian protesters gather beside  a heap of barbed wire and  burning tyres during clashes with Israeli forces near the Israel-Gaza border east of the southern Gaza strip city of Khan Younis.  Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinian protesters gather beside a heap of barbed wire and burning tyres during clashes with Israeli forces near the Israel-Gaza border east of the southern Gaza strip city of Khan Younis. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images


A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at Jerusalem’s main bus station on Sunday, police said, and violence flared near the US embassy in Beirut over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Four days of street protests in the Palestinian territories over Mr Trump’s announcement on Wednesday are continuing at a lower level, but his overturning of long-standing US policy on Jerusalem – a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians – drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.

“Our hope is that everything is calming down and that we are returning to a path of normal life without riots and without violence,” Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Army Radio.

But in Jerusalem, a security guard was in critical condition after a 24-year-old Palestinian man from the occupied West Bank stabbed him after approaching a metal detector at an entrance to the city’s central bus station, police said. The alleged assailant was taken into custody after a passerby tackled him.

‘Terror state’

In public remarks on Sunday, Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan, a frequent critic of Israel, called it an “invader state” and a “terror state”.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke at a news conference in Paris alongside French president Emmanuel Macron after the two leaders met, fired back: “I’m not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villages in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, helps Iran go around international sanctions and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Mr Macron told Mr Netanyahu that he needed to make gestures to the Palestinians to break the impasse between the two sides.

“I asked prime minister Netanyuhu to make some courageous gestures towards the Palestinians to get out of the current impasse,” Mr Macron said, suggesting that a freeze of construction in settlements could be a first step.

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 decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks. Israel says all of Jerusalem is its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

The Trump administration has said it is still committed to reviving Palestinian-Israeli talks that collapsed in 2014, but that jettisoning old policies is necessary to break the deadlock.

Washington says it has not taken a position on Jerusalem’s final status or borders, but it is sensible to recognise that any future peace deal will have Israel’s capital in the city.

The United States was “as committed to the peace process as we’ve ever been”, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday.

Mr Trump “didn’t talk about boundaries, he didn’t talk about borders... Because the final status of Jerusalem is between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It’s not for the Americans to decide.”

Mr Netanyahu reacted to critics in a statement before talks with Mr Macron, to be followed by a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

“I hear (from Europe) voices of condemnation over President Trump’s historic announcement, but I have not heard any condemnation for the rocket firing against Israel that has come [after the announcement] and the awful incitement against us,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Tear gas and water cannons

In Beirut, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, near the US embassy.

Demonstrators set fires in the street, torched US and Israeli flags and threw projectiles towards security forces that had barricaded the main road to the complex.

In the Moroccan capital, Rabat, tens of thousands of protesters marched down the city’s main thoroughfare chanting slogans including, “The people want to liberate Palestine” and “Death to Israel, enemy of the people and provoker of wars”.

Waving Palestinian flags and holding up pictures of Jerusalem, they expressed anger at a “betrayal” by Arab governments perceived to have backed Mr Trump’s move.

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, thousands protested outside the US embassy, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki has said the Palestinians will be looking for a new peace talks broker instead of the US and would seek a UN Security Council resolution over Mr Trump’s decision.

Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the US to abandon its decision on Jerusalem and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.

Echoing that view, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, said the US move “could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground” in the Middle East.

‘Significant’ tunnel

Along Israel’s tense frontier with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military on Sunday destroyed what it described as a “significant” cross-border attack tunnel dug by the enclave’s dominant Islamist group, Hamas.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas on the demolition, which came as Palestinian factions tried to meet Sunday’s deadline for an Egyptian-mediated handover of Gaza by Hamas to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas after a decade’s schism.

Pre-dawn Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday killed two Palestinian gunmen after militants fired rockets from the area into Israel on Friday. – Reuters