Middle East

Israel defence minister says hopes Palestinian protests waning

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday he hoped the violence that erupted in Palestinian protests against President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was abating.

“Our hope is that everything is calming down and that we are returning to a path of normal life without riots and without violence,” Lieberman told Army Radio.

Violence erupted for a third day on Saturday in Gaza and the occupied West Bank in response to Trump’s announcement on Wednesday in which he overturned decades of US policy towards the Middle East.

Pre-dawn Israeli air strikes on Saturday killed two Palestinian gunmen after militants fired rockets from the enclave into Israel on Friday.

However, street protests in Gaza and the West Bank were less intense on Saturday than on the previous two days and the military said there were no rocket launchings on Saturday night.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies, who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks causing further unrest in the Middle East.

Late on Saturday, Arab foreign ministers urged the United States to abandon its decision and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.

Israel says that all of Jerusalem is its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory, and say the status of the city should be left to be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

The Trump administration says it is still committed to Palestinian-Israeli talks, that Israel’s capital would be in Jerusalem under any serious peace plan, and that it has not taken a position on the city’s borders. It says the moribund negotiations can be revived only by ditching outdated policies.

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