January 28, 2020 / 5:56 PM / 23 days ago

Hamas says it will confront Trump's 'aggressive' Middle East plan

GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian condemnation of the U.S. Middle East peace plan came swiftly on Tuesday night, with thousands protesting in Gaza and the militant Islamist group Hamas saying it would confront President Donald Trump’s “aggressive” proposals.

Confounding some predictions, the proposals included a two-state solution which would see Israel and a future Palestinian state living alongside each other, with conditions.

He proposed a future Palestinian state with its capital in “eastern Jerusalem” as one of the measures to achieve a breakthrough in decades of conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

But he also said Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel.

There was no immediate reaction from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, whose power base is in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He was conferring with aides late on Tuesday.

But a spokesman for Abbas’ Fatah party said Trump’s plan “will go to the trashes of history”.

Trump was trying to “shift focus from his impeachment in the U.S.” and “neither Trump, nor anyone other than Trump can end the Palestinian cause,” Fatah spokesman Hussein Hamayel told Palestine TV.

Hamas, whose stronghold is in Gaza, was scathing.

“Trump’s statement is aggressive and it will spark a lot of anger,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

“Trump’s statement about Jerusalem is nonsense and Jerusalem will always be a land for the Palestinians ... The Palestinians will confront this deal and Jerusalem will remain a Palestinian land,” Abu Zuhri added.

In Gaza City, Palestinians burned tyres and chanted: “Trump is a fool”.

“We came here to reject this deal, the American deal of shame. The United States is responsible for all destruction in the Arab world,” said Tamer Al-Madhoun, a protester.

Israeli-Palestinian talks broke down in 2014, and it was far from clear that the Trump plan would be able to resuscitate them.

Warning of “widespread calls for demonstrations”, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem moved to restrict U.S. government employees and their families from travelling to much of Jerusalem’s Old City, which sits in the city’s east, as well as several Palestinian cities and areas of the occupied West Bank.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Writing by Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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