BEIRUT: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon reacted angrily to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In refugee camps they burned tires and fired in the air, as their leaders called for a “day of rage” on Thursday and a “total shutdown in all camps.”
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon took to the streets in spontaneous protest at Trump’s decision.
“Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” said a refugee in Ain Al-Hilweh camp. “This is what our history says, and what books and international resolutions say.”
The commander of the Joint Palestinian Force in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Munir Maqdah, told Arab News: “The 12 camps and the Palestinian communities in Lebanon, who were waiting to return to Palestine and were counting on the US administration to be a fair party in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, expressed their shock at the American stance, which is completely biased toward the Israeli occupation.”
He said: “On Friday, all the camps will take to the streets in huge demonstrations, and we’ll participate in a vigil that the national Lebanese parties have called for in front of the US Embassy.”
Maqdah added: “Does Trump want to change history and geography? He has reignited the intifada (uprising).”
He said there is full coordination with the leadership in Palestine, “because we’re part of it and will take all the steps it calls for.”
All Lebanese parties condemned Trump’s decision. President Michel Aoun told his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call that he and the Lebanese people stand “with the Palestinian people in their rejection of the American step.”
Aoun stressed “the need to confront this unacceptable step in a unified Arab position.”
He said the US has “lost, because of this position, its status as a great power that is set on finding solutions that achieve a just peace in the Middle East.”
The General Administration of Islamic Endowment, under the guidance of Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan, issued a circular to all mosque preachers in the country to “dedicate the Friday sermon to Jerusalem and denounce the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Deryan phoned Abbas, telling him that Trump’s decision “is against Islamic rights and ignores the international legitimacy represented by UN resolutions 242 and 338, which state that Jerusalem and the West Bank are occupied Palestinian lands.”
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri also called Abbas, telling him: “The American decision is against every Arab and nationalist, and against all international resolutions.”
Berri added: “It is a new occupation which is not less than the 1948 occupation because it affects all Muslims and Christians.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri warned that Trump’s declaration represents “new threats to the region.”
He tweeted: “Lebanon rejects this decision and expresses its highest levels of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right in establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea also denounced Trump’s decision, saying: “It is a sad day in the history of the Middle East.”
Geagea added that the decision “blasts all peace efforts since Oslo Accord, including Camp David, through to the final-status negotiations and the two-state solution.”
The Supreme Islamic Shia Council of Lebanon will hold an emergency meeting of its legislative and executive bodies to discuss the American decision.
Its president, Sheikh Abdul-Amir Qablan, said: “The American decision is a challenge to the feelings of Muslims and Christians alike, and a culmination of American arrogance in supporting the Zionist entity, which was established by usurping the land and displacing its people.”
He added: “Jerusalem has an Arab identity, and it is the capital of the heavenly religions, and there is no authority which can distort its identity.”
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