Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has termed the US president’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a “declaration of war” and called for a new Palestinian uprising against the move starting Friday.
“We affirm that Jerusalem is united, not Eastern or Western, and will remain the capital of Palestine, all of Palestine,” Haniyeh of the Gaza-based militant group said Thursday in a speech from the Gaza Strip.
Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday to change Jerusalem’s US status and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was met with praise in Israel but drew widespread international condemnation from Washington’s allies and foes.
Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the US and European Union, has an arsenal of rockets and some 25,000 militants in the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was in contact with more countries that plan to follow Trump’s lead.
“I have no doubt that as soon as the American embassy moves to Jerusalem – and before that – many embassies will move to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a speech at Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday.
“It’s about time,” he added.
Hamas’ call for an uprising comes amid a wave of condemnations from Palestinians, the EU, Iraq and Turkey after Trump announced his decision.
Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority (PA) government, reiterated the PA’s demand that East Jerusalem be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Hamdallah added that the US will no longer player a role in any peace process.
“Your aid is not wanted,” Hamdallah said, addressing Trump in a speech on Wednesday. “We will not accept your patron for the peace process anymore.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the move “very worrying.”
“The announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are living in,” Mogherini said in Brussels on Thursday.
Netanyahu is scheduled to have breakfast with EU foreign ministers on Monday, and Trump’s Jerusalem decision will likely dominate the meeting, she added.
Iraq summoned the US ambassador in Baghdad to hand him a note of protest over Trump’s decision, state television al-Iraqia reported Thursday.
Baghdad has said it rejects Trump’s move and warned of “serious repercussions.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on a diplomatic blitz against the move, saying that he plans to speak with world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pope Francis and top-ranking European officials.
Erdogan also aims to bring together the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group of 57 Muslim nations, next week in Istanbul for a meeting.
“If Mr Trump says ‘I am strong, so I am right,’ then he is mistaken. The one who is right is the strong one,” Erdogan said. “Here, we are the right ones.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, speaking to businessmen in Ankara, warned Thursday that the US had “pulled the pin on a bomb ready to explode in the region,” according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Yildirim warned earlier that “Pandora’s box was opened in the region with the decision,” Anadolu reported.
“The US president’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the steps related to it are null and void for Turkey,” Yildirim said.
Until Trump’s decision the US, along with the rest of the world, chose to keep its embassy in Tel Aviv in an effort to remain neutral in peace negotiations between the two sides.
Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed the territory in a move that was not internationally recognized. The city of more than 800,000 residents has remained in limbo ever since.