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Macron suggests settlement freeze to visiting Israeli PM

Monday - 11/12/2017 05:33
French president reaffirms 'disapproval' of Trump move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital

French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his "disapproval" of U.S. President Donald Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while "firmly and clearly" condemning anti-Israeli violence, following a meeting Sunday in Paris with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Macron said "what's new is that the United States unilaterally recognized something that is not complying with the international law."

He appealed for calm in the Middle East and asked Netanyahu to make gestures toward the Palestinians to "give a chance" to peace. Macron said a gesture could be a freeze on Israeli settlement construction.

The French president said he wants to wait for a potential U.S. "mediation" in coming weeks and months, and would only support an initiative that would be acceptable by Israelis, Palestinians and other parties in the region.

Netanyahu said Israel respects France's history and choices, "and we know that as friends, you respect ours. I think this is also essential for peace."

In a fifth day of unrest in the Muslim world after Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel's capital, protesters and police clashed outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters near the embassy on Sunday.

Protesters take cover from tear gas fired by riot police during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. (Bilal Hussein/Associated Press)
Protesters take cover from tear gas fired by riot police during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. (Bilal Hussein/Associated Press)

Protesters, some of them waving the Palestinian flag, set fires in the street and threw projectiles toward security forces, who had barricaded the main road leading to the embassy in Beirut's Awkar district.

Protesters were also seen burning Israeli and U.S. flags and stamping on them. 

Addressing the protesters, the head of the Lebanese Communist Party Hanna Gharib declared the United States "the enemy of Palestine" and the U.S. Embassy "a symbol of imperialist aggression" that must be closed.

Police sprayed water on protesters who tried to climb the embassy's metal fence.

Lebanon is home to 450,000 Palestinian refugees, nearly 10 per cent of the population. Last week, Lebanese President Michel Aoun called Trump's decision on Jerusalem a threat to regional stability.

Protesters are seen near the U.S. Embassy in Awkar in east Beirut. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

Meanwhile, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said his country would continue its diplomatic efforts to reverse Trump's announcement, made last Wednesday.

"Jerusalem is the light of our eyes. We won't leave it to the conscience of a state that only values occupation and looting," he said. "We will continue our struggle decisively within the law and democracy."

Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the U.S. to abandon its decision on Jerusalem and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.

Echoing that view, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, said the U.S. move "could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground" in the Middle East.

Rally in Jakarta

About 10,000 people rallied Sunday outside the U.S. Embassy in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to denounce U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and plans to relocate the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Protesters hold a rally Sunday outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to condemn the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

Similar protests, mostly organized by the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, also were held in many other cities in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.

The protests were the third and biggest in Indonesia since Trump's decision.

In the capital, protesters carried banners reading "U.S. Embassy, Get Out from Al Quds", "Free Jerusalem and Palestinians" and "We are with the Palestinians." Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.


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