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Arab states demand reversal of Trump's Jerusalem decision

by Associated Press and Reuters /
Image: Protests Continue into Fourth Day Across Jerusalem and the West Bank
A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli border guards during clashes near an Israeli checkpoint on December 9, 2017 in Ramallah, West Bank.Chris McGrath / Getty Images

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Arab foreign ministers on Sunday demanded that the United States rescind President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, calling it a "grave" development that puts Washington on the same side as "occupation" and the violation of international law.

In a resolution long on rhetoric but short on concrete actions, the ministers denounced what they claimed was an "illegal" and "dangerous violation" of international law. "It's a dangerous development that places the United States at a position of bias in favor of the occupation and the violation of international law and resolutions," the resolution said.

It said it would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution rejecting the U.S. move.

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The two-page resolution adopted by the emergency meeting, which began Saturday night, did not include any punitive actions against the United States, like a call for a boycott of American products or suspending or downgrading ties with Washington.

It also appeared to fall short of matching the anger felt by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which have seen days of violent protests against Trump's decision.

Photos: Demonstrators protest Trump's controversial Jerusalem announcement

"We have taken a political decision not meant to reflect [what is going on in] the streets. Political work is responsible work," said Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit. "Jerusalem has been occupied for 50 years. This is an extended battle, a battle that will be escalated," he told the news conference.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday he will not meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during Pence's visit to the region this month in a snub over the move.

Pence's spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, responded Sunday saying it was "unfortunate" that Abbas declined to meet.

"The Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region," she said. "But the Administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinian and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan.”

Israeli air strikes killed two Palestinian gunmen on Saturday after militants fired rockets from the enclave into Israel on Friday, which had been declared a "day of rage" by Palestinian factions.

Meanwhile violence erupted for a fourth day in response to Trump's announcement on Wednesday, which overturned decades of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.

Image: Protests Continue into Fourth Day Across Jerusalem and the West Bank
A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli border guards during clashes near an Israeli checkpoint on December 9, 2017 in Ramallah, West Bank.Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Trump's Dec. 6 announcement on Jerusalem, and his intention to move the U.S. Embassy there, triggered denunciations from around the world, with even close allies suggesting he had needlessly stirred more conflict in an already volatile region. Jerusalem's status lies at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Trump's move was widely perceived as siding with Israel. Even small crises over Jerusalem's status and that of the holy sites in its ancient Old City have sparked deadly bloodshed in the past.

Israel occupied and later annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, declaring the holy city its eternal capital. Palestinians want that part to be the capital of their future state.

Trump's decision, according to the Arab resolution, stripped the U.S. of its role as a "sponsor and broker" in the Mideast peace process, and "undermines efforts to bring about peace, deepens tension and will spark anger that will threaten to push the region to the edge of the abyss of violence, chaos and bloodshed."

Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is leading efforts to restart peace negotiations, though his bid has shown little public progress so far.

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