Israel: US embassy plan ‘ignores Palestinian views’

Image copyright AFP Image caption Israel announced the construction of more than 700 new homes in the West Bank

Israel has doubled down on its opposition to the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, accusing the US of being “one-sided” and “ignorant”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the embassy decision as “shameful” and said it was depriving the Palestinians of access to their capital.

Palestinians say the status of Jerusalem must be negotiated between them and Israel.

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated after the decision to build new homes on land they believe is theirs.

Relations between the two countries have not been strained since President Donald Trump’s move, which reversed decades of international policy and surprised many diplomats.

‘Immoral’ act

Mr Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee that Mr Trump had not taken into account the feelings of Palestinians.

In a one-sentence statement, the Palestinian Authority said it was “lamenting” the decision.

Mr Netanyahu said it was “illogical” to put a US Consulate in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their state.

The United Nations said the decision would be “counter-productive” to Middle East peace efforts.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Demonstrators burned posters of Donald Trump at the US embassy move

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel announced the construction of more than 700 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, but Israel regards the entire city as its united capital.

Most countries, including the US, have refused to recognise Israel’s claim on any part of Jerusalem and say the status of the city must be decided in negotiations between the two sides.

In September, the US opened its new embassy in the Israeli commercial capital, Tel Aviv, marking a symbolic moment for many Jews and Israelis, after a project that has been in the works for decades.

Mr Trump broke with decades of American policy on the status of Jerusalem, saying the decision had broad US bipartisan support and underscored that “Jerusalem is home to people of all faiths, and we recognise the need to defend and safeguard its sovereignty”.

The move angered the Palestinians and cast a shadow over Mr Trump’s second State of the Union address, in which he called for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Key facts about the city

Palestinians assert Jerusalem’s status must be resolved in negotiations with Israel

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, claim the city as its “eternal and indivisible capital”

While Israelis refer to the entire city as their capital, Palestinians call for East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state

Trump has abandoned longstanding US policy, referring to both capitals as “occupied”

The US currently has no embassy in Jerusalem and its main mission is in Tel Aviv

Last week, thousands of Israelis protested in Israel against the planned embassy move. Protests took place in Palestinian towns and cities across the West Bank and in Gaza.

In Jordan, tensions also increased after protests broke out at the US embassy in Amman and at the US embassy in the Israeli city of Ramallah.

In South Africa, police clashed with protesters near the US embassy in Pretoria, who burned an American flag.

But the demonstrations did not disrupt the opening of the embassy, which had already been delayed.

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