The leader of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, called for a third uprising against Israel after President Donald Trump declared contested Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Israel reinforced its troop deployment in the West Bank.
“Jerusalem is being kidnapped and ripped from us,” Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech Thursday broadcast by Al Jazeera television. He equated Trump’s policy shift as a “declaration of war” on the Palestinians.
Haniyeh called for action after Trump broke with decades of U.S. policy to recognize the city holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians as Israel’s capital, and set in motion plans to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. Previous U.S. administrations had resisted moves that could risk inflaming Muslim passions and alienating Muslim allies.
“This evil coalition that decided unilaterally on Jerusalem’s status requires a clear stance from us,” including a unified Arab and Muslim boycott of the U.S. administration, Haniyeh said.
Palestinians and Israelis suffered thousands of fatalities in two previous uprisings.
Israeli security forces braced for unrest, with the army ordering the deployment of additional battalions to the West Bank, with more troops put on standby. They’ll be backed by beefed-up intelligence and territorial defense personnel, the military spokesman’s office said.
Mickey Levy, a member of Knesset and former police commander of Jerusalem and the West Bank, said in radio interviews that police brought reinforcements into the city and its environs.
“The ground is definitely going to burn,” said Effie Sharon, a 41-year-old Jerusalem-born owner of a downtown kiosk, late Wednesday. Yehuda Blackman, a 21-year-old working at a nearby bar, said any violence would be worth it “if it brings a certain recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which there hasn’t been so far.”
The U.S. State Department sent alerts to embassies and consulates in Muslim-majority countries last week warning about possible unrest linked to the announcement. On Thursday, the American consulate in Pakistan’s commercial capital, Karachi, canceled non-essential movement of all government staff in the city through Sunday over anticipated protests related to Jerusalem.
The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem had earlier barred government employees and their families from personal travel in the Old City and in the West Bank.
The full impact of Trump’s decision won’t really be known until his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, unveils a peace plan he has been working on. But that may take too long. The risk of violence is looming, and the chief Palestinian negotiator told Israel’s Haaretz daily that the talks for a two-state solution are over.
“President Trump has delivered a message to the Palestinian people: the two-state solution is over,” Saeb Erekat said in an interview published Thursday. “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one-state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing foreign diplomats, said Israel was in contact with other countries that will similarly recognize Jerusalem as its capital and predicted “many” of them will move their embassies to Jerusalem. On Wednesday, the Czech Republic issued a statement saying it recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but isn’t considering moving its embassy at this time. Israel Radio, without saying where it got its information, said the Philippines was considering an embassy relocation.