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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party on Saturday called for mass demonstrations next week to protest against a visit to Jerusalem by US Vice-President Mike Pence.
December 16, 2017 - Written by Faysal Aadan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party has called for mass demonstrations against US Vice-President Mike Pence during his visit to Jerusalem next week, after Washington said it would recognise the holy city as Israel’s capital.

President Donald Trump broke with decades of US policy by recognising the city as Israel’s capital and declaring he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The move stirred global condemnation and sparked protests across Arab and Muslim countries, as well as deadly clashes in the occupied territories between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

Eight Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since Trump’s announcement on 6 December, including four on Friday in one of the bloodiest days in two weeks.

Hundreds have been injured by Israeli military forces during demonstrations.

The move also prompted Abbas to cancel a meeting with Pence, who arrives on Wednesday in Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials have warned that Washington no longer had a role to play in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

“We call for angry protests at the entrances to Jerusalem and in its Old City to coincide with the visit on Wednesday of US Vice-President Mike Pence and to protest against Trump’s decision,” Fatah said in a statement.

The call to protest came as thousands of Palestinians took part in funerals for four men killed Friday in clashes with Israeli forces during protests in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

Mourners chanted anti-Trump slogans and masked men fired into the air during one of the ceremonies in the village of Beit Ula in the occupied West Bank.

Funerals were also held for the two other Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, where Hamas had on Friday called for a “day of rage”.

One of those killed was Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a Palestinian who lost his legs in an Israeli attack a decade ago, who – with his wheelchair – was a regular feature at protests along Gaza’s border with Israel.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh attended Abu Thuraya’s funeral in a refugee camp west of Gaza City.

“With his death there is no valid excuse not to fight,” Haniya said.

“No one in the world can change the truth that Palestine and Jerusalem belong only to the Palestinians,” he said.

Western Wall row

Pence will no longer see Palestinian officials during his visit to the region after they – as well as Egyptian Muslim and Christianreligious leaders – cancelled meetings in protest at the embassy move.

“We understand that the Palestinians may need a bit of a cooling off period, that’s fine,” a senior White House official said Friday. “We will be ready when the Palestinians are ready to re-engage.”

Pence is expected to try to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward after he lands in Jerusalem on Wednesday, US administration officials have said.

They also suggested that that the Western Wall – in East Jerusalem’s Old City – would almost certainly be part of Israel under any deal, sparking Palestinian condemnation.

“We cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall,” one US official said.

The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray, at the foot of the Haram al-Sharif compound housing the al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam.

“We will not accept any changes to the 1967 border of east Jerusalem,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for the Palestinian president, said Saturday.

“This American position proves once again that the current US administration is completely out of the peace process,” he said, adding that Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was “totally unacceptable”.

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