Palestinians call for ‘day of rage’ Friday to mark US Jerusalem recognition

Factions urge protesters to clash with troops and settlers immediately after prayers in renewal of demonstrations 100 days after Trump announcement

Palestinian demonstrators carry stones during clashes with Israeli soldiers on March 12, 2018 in the West Bank town of Birzeit, near Ramallah. (AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)

Source: Times of Israel, By KHALED ABU TOAMEH , March 16, 2018

Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza are urging mass protests Friday to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The so-called “day of rage” would be the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations, many of them violent, which have taken place since the December 6 announcement and subsequent moves for the US to move its embassy to the city. Many of the protests shrunk in size after the first few weeks.

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers near the border fence east of Gaza City on December 22, 2017. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

Renewing the protests, Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip called Thursday for Palestinians to protest Trump’s decision by staging rallies after Friday prayers in the mosques. The protests are being held under the banner of “Friday rage for Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, a coalition consisting of various groups, called on Palestinians to confront IDF soldiers and settlers immediately after the Friday prayers.

Participation in the Friday protests will send a message to Israel that the Palestinians have not, and will not, forget the unjust decision against the Palestinians, the groups said in a statement.

The Palestinians, the groups added, “will continue to protest against this decision and the plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, as well as attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

The Palestinian factions also called on Palestinians to prepare for protests marking Land Day on March 30. Land Day refers to the Israeli government’s 1976 decision to expropriate land in the Galilee — a move that sparked widespread riots that resulted in the death of six Arab citizens.

The factions also urged the PA leadership to honor recent resolutions taken by Palestine Liberation Organization institutions to terminate all relations with Israel and revoke Palestinian recognition of Israel.

Israeli border guards advance down a street during clashes with Palestinian protesters following a demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 9, 2018 against a decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

On Thursday, Hamas issued a separate appeal to Palestinians to participate in Friday’s protests. The terror group that rules the Gaza Strip urged Palestinians to initiate clashes with IDF soldiers and settlers, saying the rage should continue until Trump’s decision is thwarted.

The fresh calls for protests come as the Palestinian Authority has continued to blackball the Trump administration’s peace negotiations efforts in anger over the Jerusalem move, which Ramallah said removed Washington from being an honest broker in ending the conflict.

The White House says it is pushing forward with the drafting of a peace proposal, which is reportedly nearing completion. On Tuesday, the administration held a conference on solving a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, despite Palestinian representatives refusing to participate.

On Thursday, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, a top aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that Trump’s policy of “dictates” was doomed to failure.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in New York City on December 13, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

Erekat said that solving the crisis in Gaza would be achieved only by lifting the Israeli blockade imposed on the coastal enclave and by ending the dispute between Hamas and the ruling Fatah faction.

Erekat claimed that the US administration was planning to create a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip as part of Trump’s yet-to-be-announced Middle East peace plan. This plan, he said, was aimed at excluding the issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees from the negotiating table, separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and destroying the option of a two-state solution in order to replace it with an apartheid system.

“How can [US Middle East envoy] Jason Greenblatt care about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip after his administration cut $300 million of the funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, which provides services to 75% of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip?” Erekat asked. “The shortest way to solving the problems of the Gaza Strip is to achieve geographical unity between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine.”

The White House meeting on the Gaza Strip brought together representatives of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and four Gulf countries with whom Israel has no diplomatic ties.

Erekat made his comments during separate meetings he held in Jericho with Spanish Foreign Minister Ildefonso Castro, the secretary-general of the United Nations Development Program, and Swedish officials.