Protests over Trump's Jerusalem move

Reporting by David Lee Miller

On the street of Bethlehem, and other parts of the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians again demonstrated in protest against President Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration.

In Gaza, two demonstrators were killed by live ammunition. Nearly 700 Palestinians were wounded. Israeli authorities, anticipating even larger crowds following Friday prayers, beefed up troop deployments, but the size of the protests were about the same as the last two days.

Palestinian extremists fired rockets from Gaza into Israel, but they were either intercepted or landed in unpopulated areas causing no injuries. Israel retaliated with air strikes.

Meanwhile, other anti-US, anti-Israel demonstrations took place throughout the Muslim world including Jordan, Indonesia and Pakistan. Al Qaeda called for a holy war targeting what the United States called its Zionist and crusader allies.

At the UN Security Council, US allies, the UK, France and other countries criticized the US position in Jerusalem. US Ambassador Nikki Haley defended President Trump’s decision saying Jerusalem’s final status, including its physical boundaries, would be determined by negotiation. She also had a message for Palestinians about the US’s hopes for a peace deal.

“To my Palestinian brothers and sisters, I can tell you with complete confidence that the Unites States is deeply committed to achieving a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Palestinian permanent UN observer who attended the Security Council meeting urged diplomats to denounce the US’s recognition of Israel’s capital. He also said Washington can no longer be an honest broker in negotiating an agreement.

“One party cannot continue to monopolize the peace process, especially not one that acts with bias in favor of the occupying power, at the expense of the law and rights of the occupied people.”

In little more than a week Vice President Pence is scheduled to visit the region, although a high ranking Palestinian official has said he would not be welcome to meet with President Abbas. No official decision has been made, but much could depend on events on the ground and whether or not the violence continues.