Elusive peace grows more remote with US Jerusalem embassy move, violence

World       by Dawood Rehman | Published

A gala in Jerusalem to celebrate the embassy's move was held in the shadow a violent day during which Israeli soldiers shot and killed more than 50 Palestinians during mass protests.

Escalating violence in the Gaza strip area has also led to increased concern it could spark demonstrations in other locations.

The protests took place as the U.S. embassy was formally relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, on the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel, amid formality and celebration that created an nearly surreal contrast to the violence raging barely 60km away.

Mr Trump has argued that by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of America's close ally, he had "taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table" and formalised realities on the ground.

Speaking with Radio Sputnik news analyst Bob Schlehuber, Soheir Asaad, a lawyer with Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said that Israel's continued aggression toward Palestinians is in an effort to change the demographics of Israel and Jerusalem.

"Today we follow through on this recognition and open our embassy in the historic and sacred land of Jerusalem and we're opening it many, many years ahead of schedule".

The new United States embassy opened in Jerusalem while in Gaza, roughly 50 miles away, there were deadly clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. "Today Jerusalem is the center of Israel's government, the home of Israeli legislator and the Israeli supreme court", Trump added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri during a plenum session in the Knesset, January 11, 2016.

Contact between the White House and Palestinians was curtailed in December after Palestinians condemned the Trump administration's move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

He thanked President Trump for "having the courage" to keep his pledge to move the us diplomatic headquarters in Israel to Jerusalem, which Netanyahu called the "eternal, undivided capital of Israel".

"What a glorious day!" "Remember this moment, this is history". David Friedman, the USA ambassador to Israel, praised "the vision, the courage and the moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude, President Donald J. Trump". "All of us are deeply grateful".

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade in 2007, after Hamas seized the territory from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Whoever the demonstrators represent - and many of them are young people simply representing themselves and their frustrated dreams - entering a border zone declared off limits by Israel is not a crime punishable by death", Bashi said.

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed, as its "eternal and indivisible capital" in a move that has not won worldwide recognition.

"It's not just that it's provoked violence or that it's made the United States look like the biased broker instead of the honest broker", Dr Indyk said of the embassy move, "but it also has set the process back in a way that all this loose talk about how it's going to advance peace is ludicrous".

The Israeli military estimated a turnout of about 40,000 at the Palestinian protest on Monday, saying this fell short of what Hamas had hoped for.

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude towards United States President Donald Trump for opening the USA embassy in Jerusalem.

Current US policy is that American citizens born in Jerusalem identify only the city as their birthplace in their passports, unless they were born before Israel's creation in 1948.

The Trump administration says it has almost completed a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but is undecided on how and when to roll it out.

Trump's recognition of a contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December outraged Palestinians, who said the USA could no longer serve as an honest broker in any peace process with Israel.

"Syria condemns. the brutal massacre carried out by the Israeli occupation against unarmed Palestinian civilians", said Syrian Foreign Ministry official.

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