In Brief

Jerusalem: Arab leaders issue warning as protests mount

‘This is an extended battle, a battle that will be escalated,’ Arab League chief says

Foreign ministers from Arab states have called on the US to reverse its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as violent protests continue across the region.

Donald Trump upended nearly seven decades of American foreign policy by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last week and announcing plans to move the US Embassy there.

The decision sparked a wave of protests this weekend, with demonstrations continuing across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Thousands of demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Trump slogans also took to the streets of the Indonesian capital Jakarta yesterday, while violent clashes broke out between pro-Palestinian protesters and Lebanese security forces outside the US embassy in Beirut.

In a two-page resolution released yesterday, Arab ministers urged Trump to reconsider and said they would seek a UN Security Council meeting to address the issue, the New York Times reports.

The Arab League’s chief, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that the ministers had “taken a political decision” not meant to reflect the protests in the streets, the paper adds.

“Jerusalem has been occupied for 50 years,” he said. “This is an extended battle, a battle that will be escalated.”

Speaking during a visit to France yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinians must “get to grips with the reality” that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and had “never been the capital of any other people”, he said.

A senior US official attempted to calm tensions in the region by appealing to Middle East leaders last night, the Associated Press reports.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield said Trump’s decision was a “recognition of simple reality” and not meant to prejudge final-status negotiations about the city’s final borders.

He said Arab leaders should be aware that the US “remains committed” to moving forward with a peace plan that will be unveiled in the new year.

 “This is a question of choice: Do leaders choose to speak to their peoples, to their regions in terms that reflect reality or in terms that incite or inflame?” Satterfield added. “We hope it’s the former.”

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