“The decision has no legal effect… it deepens tension, ignites anger and threatens to plunge the region into more violence and chaos,” the Arab League said in a joint declaration after foreign ministers of the 22-strong organization held a meeting in Egypt’s capital Cairo. The meeting continued well into the early hours of the morning, as Arab officials formulated a proper response to Wednesday’s move by Washington.
Trump’s decision was branded as a “dangerous violation of international law” by the league, which asked the UN Security Council to reject it in a resolution. This will probably be difficult to pass, considering US veto power over the security body. Some members of the league such as Lebanon called for immediate action to retaliate against the US, including placing economic sanctions on the country, but the organization refrained from encoding such a response, opting for an information campaign instead.
During the discussion of the US decision, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called on the international community to recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. “The decision amounts to the legalization of occupation,” said the head of the organization, referring to Israel’s continued control of East Jerusalem since the 1967 war. He added that the US has undermined its role as a mediator in the Middle East peace process, supporting earlier calls by the Palestinian minister to find a better mediator in place of America.
Earlier the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, claimed the US had more credibility as a steward of the peace process than the other 14 members of the UN Security Council and pledged to protect Israel from what she called “unfair” attacks in the United Nations. She said her country “will not be lectured to [sic] by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly,” defying the united criticism of Washington at an emergency session of the body.
Despite repeated warnings by global and regional powers, Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel on December 6, triggering a strong backlash and widespread condemnation. Following the announcement, massive anti-American rallies erupted across the region.
The most intense clashes are playing out in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, as Palestinians continue to fight for their cause, after Hamas called for a new intifada (uprising). The crackdown on protests which have gripped the Israeli occupied territories has been brutal. Hundreds of people have been injured as Israeli security forces used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to suppress those protesting. On Saturday alone, over 230 Palestinians were injured, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said, with 171 wounded in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and another 60 in the Gaza Strip.