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Trump's Jerusalem Move Sparks International Criticism, Street Protests


International criticism and street protests have heightened against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with several Palestinians reportedly injured in clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank and Gaza.

Protests also broke out in Jordan, Tunisia, Pakistan, and elsewhere on December 7, a day after Trump made the announcement that broke long-standing U.S. policy in the Middle East.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported dozens of people were slightly hurt in West Bank clashes, mainly from inhalation of tear gas.

It added that at least six people were injured by rubber bullets and one person from live fire, although the Israeli military denied that live fire was used.

Jordanian media reported that students and academics gathered at several universities chanting slogans pointing to the "Arab and Islamic identity" of Jerusalem, which is considered holy by Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

In the Tunisian capital of Tunis and elsewhere in the country, protesters waved the Palestinian flag and posters depicting Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest site, the German dpa news agency reported.

In Pakistan, dozens of supporters of the banned radical religious group Jamaat-ud-Dawa demonstrated in the northwestern city of Peshawar against the U.S. decision, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reported. The protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags.

WATCH: Muslim activists in Pakistan gathered to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal)

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians regard it as the capital of their future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and declared all of the city as its capital, a move never recognized by the international community. Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

In his announcement, Trump said he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move experts say could take three to four years.

He said the decision would "finally acknowledge the obvious -- that Jerusalem is Israel's capital" and that he still intends "to do everything in my power to help force" a peace agreement acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians.

U.S. allies from Germany and Saudi Arabia to Britain and the European Union condemned Trump’s decision and said it would make negotiating peace in the region more difficult.

Saudi Arabia said it was "irresponsible" and would cause a "drastic regression in the efforts to move the peace process forward."

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called it an "about-face" that "is already a big problem" and will likely throw "fuel on the fire" and escalate the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed "serious concern" about the U.S. administration's move, warning that it could destabilize the region.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan planned to discuss how the move is impacting the Middle East peace process.

'Reprehensible' Decision

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said the United States can no longer play the role of peace broker in light of what he called Trump's "reprehensible" decision, which he said "undermines all peace efforts."

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on December 7 called for a new uprising against Israel, urging Muslims to rally against the decision on December 8 in a "day of rage."

In Iraq, an Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia that fought alongside Iraqi government forces against Islamic State (IS) militants said Trump's decision "makes it legitimate to strike the American forces in Iraq."

Eight members of the UN Security Council -- mostly U.S. allies including Britain, France, Egypt, Italy, and Sweden -- called for an emergency meeting on December 8 to discuss the move.

"I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal
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