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Israeli-Palestinian reflexes take over in U.S. embassy dispute

JERUSALEM >> In Gaza City, Palestinians burned photos of President Donald Trump and in Jerusalem, Jews celebrated by lighting the walls of the Old City with the colors of the American and Israeli flags after Trump made good today on his pledge to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

As Palestinian officials talked of cutting ties with the United States or ending security cooperation with Israel, Israeli government ministers and opposition leaders alike welcomed the U.S. decision. Ordinary Israelis and supporters of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, however, expressed fears that the move would ignite a new round of violence.

In the Palestinian territories, Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian factions, whose internecine battles have often been bloody and politically debilitating, came together to urge a public venting of rage against Trump.

“These measures are a reward to Israel’s violations of international resolutions and an encouragement for Israel to continue its policy of occupation, settlements, apartheid and ethnic cleansing,” President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said in a televised speech.

Abbas called Trump’s actions “a deliberate undermining of all efforts to achieve peace, and is a declaration of the withdrawal of the United States from playing the role which it has played over the past decades as a peace broker.”

In Gaza City, hundreds of demonstrators burned American flags and posters bearing Trump’s photograph. “The ball of fire will roll until an intifada will break out,” warned Salah al-Bardawil, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a last-minute appearance at a diplomatic conference in Jerusale, but he did not mention recognition of the capital.

But Naftali Bennett, the education minister and leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, said Trump’s announcement “shows that Israel’s strategic patience has paid off.”

Israelis overwhelmingly say they favor international recognition of Jerusalem as their capital.

“I do agree with recognition, but this should have been done with a wide and clear understanding between all the sides,” said Alon Levi, 44, a manager for a chain of health food stores. “I feel like this is an act resulting from the political interests of the leaders and is not in the interest of the two nations here, and peace.”

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