Paul Bernard

Christians give their reaction to US embassy move to Jerusalem

Mon 14 May 2018
By Cara Bentley

Palestinians and Israeli forces have clashed at the Gaza border - we speak to two Christians, one whose charity works in Gaza and another who supports the embassy move in Jerusalem. 

President Donald Trump declared before Christmas that he would move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. 

It was a controversial decision as many Palestinians consider the eastern part of Jerusalem to be their capital of a future Palestinian state, and America's decision showed that they recognised the city as Israel's alone. 

Nigel Varndell is from Embrace the Middle East, a Christian charity providing aid in Gaza, he explained: "Palestinians have always believed that Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state as well as the capital of an Israeli state, so by the United States moving its embassy, they feel betrayed - they feel as though the US have taken the Israeli side and really rejected any attempts for the Palestinians to have a future capital in Jerusalem."

"They feel in effect that they're being rejected in the peace process and that the US can't really act as an honest broker in the peace negotiations anymore - in fact that they [the negotiations] are probably dead after this."

However, Reverend Doctor Petra Heldt from the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Jerusalem told Premier's News Hour that people in Israel were overjoyed with the embassy move: "In Israel there is great joy in the streets of Jerusalem...there is dancing, people go to the western wall, they pray there, they thank for this movement, they thank that Israel is finally recognised by the greatest and most important country in the world."

She argued that Palestinians had been warned: "The Israeli army was ready to defend the borders of Israel and they have handed leaflets, thousands of leaflets to Gaza yesterday and today to warn the population not to follow the terror ideology of the Hamas jihadists and to stay away from the border of Israel."

Israeli soldiers have shot and killed at least 52 Palestinians and left another 1,200 injured during mass protests along the Gaza border, health officials said.

In a show of anger fuelled by the embassy move, Palestinian protesters set tyres ablaze and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border. Later, Israeli forces opened fire from tanks, sending protesters fleeing for cover.

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