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Israel, US said bracing for turmoil over Trump decision on Jerusalem

Israeli security forces stand guard in front of the Dome of the Rock in the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in the old city of Jerusalem on July 27, 2017
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)
Israeli security officials believe US announcement on Jerusalem could spark new wave of violence

Israel’s defense establishment and US embassies throughout the Middle East are readying for the possibility of violent backlash following a possible announcement by United States President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel later this week.

The US has instructed its missions throughout the Middle East to be on high alert and brace for protests, as backlash against such a move is expected to spread across the Arab world.

The Politico news site reported Monday that at least two classified cables have been sent to US embassies and consulates in the Middle East advising that they boost security in light of potential danger following the anticipated announcement.

In Israel, officials from internal security agencies including the Police, Shin Bet, and Israel Defense Force (IDF) Central Command have been meeting over the past few days in order to evaluate the situation and prepare for potential rioting and violent attacks, particularly in Jerusalem, the Ynet news agency reported.

According to the report, officials believe that the move could spark both a spate of “lone-wolf” attacks or from established terror groups, particularly Hamas, which is eager to flex its muscle amid a blow to its hardline image as it inches towards diplomatic reconciliation with longtime rivals Fatah.

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File

The Gaza-based Islamist group on Saturday called on Palestinians to launch a new ‘intifada’ (uprising) as it warned Trump of the possible inflammatory consequences of recognizing Israel’s disputed claim over Jerusalem.

“This step constitutes a flagrant violation of international law as Jerusalem is an occupied territory,” Hamas said in a statement, urging the Palestinian people to, “stand up in the face of this brutal decision” and prevent the passing of this “conspiracy.”

President Donald Trump faces a key decision this week over Jerusalem's status, potentially reversing years of US policy and prompting a furious response from the Palestinians and the Arab world.

Trump has yet to make his final decision, US officials have said, but he is now expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem -- though he may still recognize the city as Israel's capital.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and previous peace plans have stumbled over debates on whether, and how, to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites.

The last Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which claimed the lives of some 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis, was sparked by right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon's visit to the city's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000.

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