Palestinian president calls Trump's Jerusalem declaration 'unacceptable crime'
Clashes erupt in West Bank after Hamas calls for new uprising
The Palestinian president says he is rallying international opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which he called an "unacceptable crime."
At a meeting with Jordan's king, President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he rejects Trump's decision and believes the United States has hurt its credibility in the region.
"Fortunately, there was a positive response from all the countries in the world, from Europe and from Africa and countries close to America that don't support the U.S.," he said. "These all are messages to Trump that what he did is an unacceptable crime."
- Palestinians protest U.S. announcement on Jerusalem
- Trump's decision will have wide-reaching repercussions
Trump's dramatic break Wednesday with decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem is highly contentious for many, as Palestinians seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as a future capital.
Israel, which claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, has welcomed Trump's decision. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Trump "bound himself forever" to the history of Jerusalem with the move and claimed other states are considering following suit.
"We are already in contact with other states that will make a similar recognition," he said Thursday.
When asked by Reuters, the White House said it wasn't aware of any other country that planned to follow Trump's move.
The Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians on Thursday to launch a new uprising against Israel in response to Trump's move, and Palestinian factions called for a "Day of Rage" on Friday.
A wave of protest in the West Bank and Gaza on Thursday brought clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops.
After three rockets were launched at Israel, the Israeli military said an aircraft and a tank targeted two posts belonging to militants in the Gaza Strip, which is effectively controlled by Hamas.
Israel and the United States consider Hamas a terrorist organization, as does Canada.
Anger in Arab world
Anger at the U.S. has already rippled across the Arab world as people react to Trump's move, which the UN Security Council is set to examine Friday during an emergency meeting.
Saudi Arabia's royal court, led by King Salman and his powerful son, condemned the Trump administration's decision in a rare public rebuke by the U.S. ally.
Saudi Arabia, a regional powerhouse that could help the White House push through a Middle East settlement, said Thursday the kingdom had already warned against this step and "continues to express its deep regret at the U.S. administration's decision," describing it "unjustified and irresponsible."
Trump's move puts the Sunni nation in a bind. The kingdom, particularly its powerful crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, enjoys close relations with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who leads Trump's efforts to restart Mideast peace talks.
Trump's claim Wednesday that he still wants to pursue what he has called the "ultimate" Mideast deal was met with skepticism.
"With its decision, the U.S. has isolated itself and Israel, and has pushed the area into a dangerous situation and stopped the peace process," said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a senior Abbas aide.
"Without a doubt, this decision will not help at all in solving the problems in the area, but rather strengthen the extremists."
Jordan's King Abdullah II is seen as one of Washington's most dependable partners in the battle against Islamic extremism in the region.
At the same time, the legitimacy of his Hashemite dynasty is closely linked to its special role in Jerusalem, as religious guardian of a key Muslim shrine in east Jerusalem. Jordan, which has a large population with Palestinian roots, cannot afford to be seen as soft on Muslim claims to the holy city.
The consultations between the monarch and Abbas will kick off a series of meetings in the Arab and Muslim world on how to respond to Trump.
'Ring of fire'
The Arab League, a group representing most states in the Middle East and North Africa, will meet Saturday. Next week, Turkey will host a gathering of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has 57 Arab and Muslim member states. The region has been bracing for fallout from Trump's seismic policy shift.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused Trump of throwing the Middle East into a "ring of fire," and said his motives were difficult to fathom.
"It's not possible to understand what you are trying to get out of it," Erdogan said, referring to Trump in a speech to a group of workers at Ankara's airport.
"Political leaders exist not to stir things up, but to make peace," Erdogan said. "If Trump says, 'I am strong therefore I am right,' he is mistaken."
With files from Reuters and CBC News