U.S. wayward decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has brought further misery to the already troubled Middle East, causing rising tensions in the region and a growing rift between the United States and its European allies.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump broke decades of Washington policy by acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and instructed relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, which has been a sensitive issue in peace talks and the main subject of disagreement between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators.
Trump's announcement was seen as siding with the Israelis. In less than a week, the declaration has triggered wide criticism and opposition from Arab and Muslim countries and upset Europe as well.
NEW VIOLENCE RIPPLING IN ALREADY UNSTABLE REGION
Trump's pronouncement Wednesday inflamed new violence and enraged conflict across the already uncertain region as the move upended decades of U.S. policy and a longstanding international consensus.
On Sunday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard and seriously wounded him at the central bus station in the volatile city.
Palestinian youths also clashed in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, hurling stones at Israeli soldiers, who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas.
In Beirut, Lebanese protesters held demonstrations on Sunday near the U.S. embassy, throwing rocks and burning tires, to denounce Trump's decision.
"We came here for a sit-in in front of the U.S. embassy to protest the decision taken by Trump. It is impossible to implement this decision as long as there are people like us," said a protester.
In the Moroccan capital Rabat, tens of thousands of protesters marched down the city's high street chanting slogans "The people want to liberate Palestine" and "Death to Israel, enemy of the people and provoker of wars."
MOUNTING ANGER, CRITICISM
Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has sparked mounting anger and criticism in the Arab world.
Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo Saturday for an emergency meeting and demanded the United States abandon its decision on Jerusalem.
Echoing that view, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, warned that Trump's decision "could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground" in the Middle East.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani slammed the move as "illegal" and would further destabilize the Middle East, holding Israel "responsible for all the insecurity and instability" in the region.
During a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Rouhani called on Islamic states to join hands in opposing the "dangerous" move.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry said such a unilateral decision violates the international legitimacy, adding that the decision will not change the legal status of Jerusalem as an occupied city.
EXPANDING RIFT BETWEEN U.S., EUROPE
A growing rift seems to emerge between Israel and the United States on one side, and Europe and the Palestinians on the other.
Ambassadors of European Union (EU) countries to the United Nations issued a joint declaration Friday to show disapproval of Trump's decision and to call for calm in the Middle East.
"It is a constant position of EU members that, within this framework, Jerusalem should ultimately be the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states," reads the declaration by the ambassadors of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.
At a meeting in Paris with Israel's visiting prime minister, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed "disapproval" of Trump's decision, calling it "dangerous for peace."
Macron urged Israel to freeze its construction of settlements on occupied lands and called for other confidence-building measures toward the Palestinians.
Last week, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned that Trump's decision "has the potential to send us backward to even darker times than the one we are already living in."
"The Federal Government does not support this attitude because the status of Jerusalem is to be negotiated within the framework of a two-state solution," spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on Twitter on behalf of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Turkey condemned the U.S. decision as "irresponsible," saying it bears the risk of completely destroying the ground for peace.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on the U.S. administration to reconsider this faulty decision and avoid harming the multicultural identity and historical status of Jerusalem.