Outrage continued across Turkish and Palestinian media over the weekend in response to reports that the United States embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within the coming months, much earlier than expected.On Saturday, the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs issued a press release stating that the US move undermines the foundations of peace and disregards international law."The declaration of the United States Administration to move its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May reveals that the US insists on undermining the foundations of peace by disregarding the international law.""Unfortunately, the US exhibits that it does not hear, and worse still, does not care about the voice of the international community’s conscience," the statement reads."In response to this highly worrisome decision of the United States, Turkey will sustain its efforts, together with the vast majority of international community, to safeguard the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."On Sunday morning, Qadura Fares, a former Palestinian Authority minister and current head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, commented on Israel Army Radio that "Trump behaves like God who decides the fate of a whole nation [...] and despite the fact that he admits that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most complicated in the world, apparently he didn't understand the character of the Palestinian nation and the basic elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."However, in the radio interview he argued that the US is not the real problem. "Even if there was a fair American president, we wouldn't have anything to negotiate because the real problem lies here, in an extreme, right-wing, racist government that has destroyed the option for a two-state solution and has destroyed hope for both the Palestinians and the Israelis." Asked for the ideal way for the Palestinians to react, he said that there should be protests but not violence. "The Palestinians need to protest but we need to show that we are not only capable of violent protest. I think that the Palestinian nation needs to protest intensely but not violently and we need to stop behaviors that are not helping our cause, [...] we need to be serious."On Friday, A State Department official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the Trump administration will officially relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, coinciding with Israel's 70th Independence Day.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted the decision with joy, stating on Twitter that "This is a great moment for the State of Israel. Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership, and for your friendship."
Israel actually celebrates its independence according to the Jewish calendar, so the western date is different every year, and this year it will actually be celebrated on April 19.However, Israel's Independence Day is an significant date not just for Israelis. Palestinians refer to Israel’s establishment in 1948 as the Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands lost their homes and became refugees. Nakba Day is marked annually on May 15, the same day as the Gregorian anniversary of the day Israel declared itself a state. Accordingly, on their official Twitter account, the PLO published a quote from Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian activist and scholar, saying that "They deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury."
This is a great moment for the State of Israel. @POTUS Trump's decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make our Independence Day celebrations even happier.Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership, and for your friendship. pic.twitter.com/PFQKaPoy7W— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 24, 2018
Immediately after the announcement on Friday, clashes erupted across Gaza and the West Bank in weekly protests and Hamas officials called the move a declaration of war."Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against the Arab and Muslim nation, and the US administration must reconsider its move," Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official in Gaza, said.Saeb Erekat, senior Palestinian negotiator, said on Friday: "The US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and now to move its embassy on the eve of marking 70 years since the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of at least 418 Palestinian villages, and the forcible displacement of two thirds of our people, shows the determination to violate international law, destroy the two-state solution and provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe.""This is an unacceptable step. Any unilateral move will not give legitimacy to anyone and will be an obstacle to any effort to create peace in the region," said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.Reuters contributed to this report.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi on US Decision to Move its Embassy to #Jerusalem: they deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, "the Nakba", as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury. #Palestine pic.twitter.com/ndpsYSVFYx— Palestine PLO-NAD (@nadplo) February 24, 2018