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Two die in Gaza protests as ex-CIA chief calls Trump response to Jerusalem criticism 'beyond outrageous'

There have been daily protests since the President announced his decision

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 22 December 2017 18:48 GMT
Protests break out in Gaza following Trump's reaction to UN vote

At least two Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli troops, as protests raged over the US’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A day after the UN voted to condemn the US’s unilateral action, thousands of Palestinian protesters confronted Israeli forces, many of them carrying rocks, along the Gaza fence in all seven cities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In a high-profile global rebuke to President Trump and his administration, the UN General Assembly voted 128 to 9 – with 35 abstentions – for a resolution demanding the US scrap its 6 December decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In advance of the vote, Mr Trump had threatened to withhold aid from countries that supported the measure. Afterwards, the US’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley invited countries which had abstained or voted against the motion to attend a “thank you” party in Washington.

Mr Trump’s threats were widely condemned, including by former CIA chief John Brennan who suggested Mr was acting like a “vengeful autocrat”.

“Trump admin threat to retaliate against nations that exercise sovereign right in UN to oppose US position on Jerusalem is beyond outrageous,” he said on Twitter.

The United Nations General Assembly votes 128-9 to declare the United States' Jerusalem capital recognition 'null and void'

Palestinians and their supporters celebrated the vote that rebuked Mr Trump’s decision, which breaks with 50 years of international consensus that the status of Israel should be part of a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Ms Haley, however, said the the resolution (which had no legal impact) was “null and void”.

Israel said the vote was similar to a UN resolution passed in 1975 that equated Zionism – the movement that supports a Jewish homeland in historically recognised territory – with racism. That was only scrapped after intense US lobbying.

“It’s shameful that this meeting is even taking place,” said Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon. “Israel completely rejects this preposterous resolution. Jerusalem is our capital. Always was, always will be.”

Reuters said the protests by Palestinians marked an intensification of those that broke out after Mr Trump made his announcement, and that have continued daily ever since.

Israeli troops killed at least two Palestinian protesters and injured dozens (Getty)

In Bethlehem, smoke from burning tyres filled the streets. Meanwhile in southern Gaza, at least two Palestinians were shot and killed and up to 40 wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Health officials said at least one Palestinian suffered a live bullet wound in the West Bank, and some 30 protesters were hit by rubber bullets. Others were overcome by tear gas.

In a statement, the Israeli military said 2,000 Palestinians had faced off against troops at the Gaza border fence, facing firebombs, rocks and burning tyres.

It said the crowd threw stones and rolled burning tyres at soldiers, who responded with “riot dispersal” measures and “fired live rounds selectively towards main instigators”.

Protests break out in Gaza following Trump's reaction to UN vote

The news agency said that protesters chanted: “Trump is a coward. Trump is a fool.” Among the wounded was a man dressed as Santa Claus.

The Palestinian military puts the number of demonstrators at about 1,700 and the injured at six.

In a Christmas message, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Mr Trump’s decision “an insult to millions of people worldwide, and also to the city of Bethlehem”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN the US's Jerusalem declaration recognised “an historical truth”.

“Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years from the time of King David. It has been the capital of the state of Israel for 70 years, and it's about time that the United States said, and I'm glad they said it, 'This is the capital and we recognise it' and I think that's going to be followed by other countries,” Mr Netanyahu said.

He would not name the countries he referred to, but said that they are “seriously considering” following the US's lead and moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

While the Prime Minister described the vote as preposterous, his deputy minister for diplomacy appeared to play down support for the resolution shown by many countries Israel considers friends.

“We have an interest in tightening our bilateral relations with a long list of countries in the world, and expect and hope that one day they will vote with us, or for us in the United Nations,” Michael Oren told a radio station in Tel Aviv.

“But I am not prepared to suspend all cooperation with important countries, such as India.”

Mr Netanyahu, who hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, is due to visit New Delhi next month.

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