Clashes continue as US' Jerusalem move condemned at UN

A Palestinian protester throws a tear gas canister back at Israeli forces during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City.
A Palestinian protester throws a tear gas canister back at Israeli forces during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City.PHOTO: AFP

US envoy reaffirms commitment to peace accord; China offers to facilitate process

GAZA • Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed two Palestinian gunmen after rockets were fired from the enclave, in violence that erupted over US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Gaza militants launched at least three rockets towards Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip - which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas - after dark on Friday. The day had been declared a "day of rage" by Palestinian factions in protest at Mr Trump's announcement last week.

"IAF (Israeli Air Force) aircraft targeted four facilities belonging to the Hamas terror organisation," the Israeli military said in a statement.

A Hamas source confirmed the two men killed in the pre-dawn air strikes were with the group, which has urged Palestinians to keep up the confrontation with Israel.

Mr Trump's reversal of decades of United States policy has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies, who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence in the region.

Criticism of the US mounted at a tense emergency session of the UN Security Council on Friday. Ambassadors from Britain, France, Italy, Japan, China and others warned Mr Trump's move was misguided. Other envoys blasted the US shift as a violation of past Security Council resolutions and international law.

  • Avoid travel to Gaza, West Bank: MFA

  • Singaporeans should avoid all travel to Gaza amid unrest in the area, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has said in a travel advisory on its website.

    MFA also advised Singaporeans to avoid non-essential travel to the West Bank, including Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah, and to Israel's borders with the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria.

    Those who visit Jerusalem should "exercise a high degree of caution", especially in the Old City and in East Jerusalem, MFA said. Singaporeans travelling to or living in Israel and the Palestinian territories are advised to remain vigilant and closely monitor the news.

    They should heed the instructions of the local authorities, avoid areas known for public disturbances or where large crowds congregate and take precautions for personal safety, including having comprehensive travel and medical insurance, MFA said.

    It encouraged Singaporeans to register online with MFA at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg so that they can be contacted should the need arise.

    "Singaporeans are also advised to stay in touch with your family and friends so that they know you are safe," MFA added.

    Those who need consular assistance while in Israel or the Palestinian territories can contact Singapore's Consulate-General in Tel Aviv on +972-5444-9908-1 or the 24-hour MFA duty office on +65-6379-8800/8855.

A defiant US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley insisted that the US administration remains committed to seeking a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. The US won't be "lectured" about its support for Israel and Mid-East peace, she said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday the US could no longer broker peace talks.

China has offered to help. Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday urged Israelis and Palestinians to exercise restraint, and offered to host a forum for both sides to explore a way forward for the peace process.

China is Israel's third largest trading partner but maintains strong ties with the Palestinians and supports a two-state solution.

Palestinian protests yesterday were far less intense than on previous days. About 60 Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers across the Gaza-Israel border; in Bethlehem, Palestinians set fire to tyres and threw stones at Israeli troops, who used tear gas; in East Jerusalem about 60 people demonstrated near the walled Old City.

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets and two were killed in clashes with Israeli troops. Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands more protesters had gathered to express solidarity.

The issue was also raised at the IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, where United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said of the US move: "Radicals and extremists will use that to fan the language of hate."

The status of Jerusalem has been one of the biggest obstacles to a Palestine-Israel peace accord for generations. Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent Palestine.

REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 10, 2017, with the headline 'Clashes continue as US' Jerusalem move condemned at UN'. Print Edition | Subscribe