Amid US President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, Palestinian activists burned pictures of the controversial US leader at the separation wall’s gate at the northern entrance of Bethlehem city in the southern occupied West Bank.
Participants told Ma’an that the event was a message of their rejection of the president and the new administration’s support for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The activity included hanging up pictures of Trump with slogans rejecting his views, which many have called divisive and racist. As activists began burning images of Trump, Israeli forces quickly arrived and attempted to expel them from the area, while threatening to use force on the activists.
Israeli forces then tore apart pictures and signs used during the demonstration.
Journalist Muhammad al-Lahham, who participated in the activity, said that the protest was launched in order to raise warnings of the backlash that will likely erupt both in the occupied Palestinian territory and around the world if the new administration went through with moving the embassy.
Palestinian activists burn image of President Donald Trump in Bethlehem, during the presidential inauguration ceremony. pic.twitter.com/WFgPaRI929
— Eli Dror (@edrormba) January 21, 2017
The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of occupied East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
Trump’s campaign promise of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been met with applause by right-wing Israeli officials and strongly condemned by Palestinians and the international community.
— Dorgham Abusalim (@dabusalim) January 20, 2017
The now Republican-dominated US congress already introduced a bill that would move the US embassy to Jerusalem, as Republicans control both the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time since 2007. The US House of Representatives meanwhile approved a bipartisan resolution rejecting UN resolution 2334 that passed last month strongly denouncing Israel’s illegal settlement building in occupied Palestinian territory, and instead stated their unwavering commitment and support for the state of Israel.
Last month, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat warned that the PLO would revoke all previously signed agreements with Israel as well as the PLO’s 1993 recognition of Israel if Trump followed through on his pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
#NOW Palestinian protesters in Bethlehem burn pics of Donald Trump, occupied Palestine.
Move the embassy to your own country, not ours. pic.twitter.com/CPkIn6fYSc
— Muhammad Smiry (@MuhammadSmiry) January 20, 2017
During a conference call in Washington D.C. organized by the Wilson Center, Erekat reportedly said such a move would indicate the US’s acceptance of “Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem,” and further warned that “any hope of peace in the future will just vanish,” Times of Israel reported.
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)