Palestinian protesters set placards of US vice-president alight after Trump's Jerusalem move

Palestinian protesters set placards of US vice-president alight after Trump's Jerusalem move
Protests have broken out across Palestine ahead of the US vice president's visit to the region following Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital
2 min read
18 December, 2017
Palestinian officials - as well as Egyptian religious leaders - cancelled meetings with Pence [Getty]

Palestinian protesters in Bethlehem set fire to placards of the US vice-President Mike Pence ahead of his visit to the region this week.

A small group of demonstrators gathered on Sunday and set fire to placards with pictures of US President Donald Trump and Jason Greenblatt, the Middle East negotiator printed on them.  

Around 30 Palestinians stood with candles in front of Bethlehem's lit up Christmas tree in the Manger Square, near the Church of the Nativity. The site marks Jesus' birthplace according to the Christian belief.

"Bethlehem welcomes the messengers of peace, not the messengers of war," read some of the placards held by the protesters.

Palestinian party Fatah has called for mass demonstrations against the US vice-president's visit after the country said it would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump broke with decades of US policy earlier this month by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declaring he would move the country's embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city.

The move caused widespread anger across the Arab and Muslim world sparking protests and global condemnation, as well as deadly clashes in the occupied territories and alongside the Gaza border.

Eight Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since Trump's announcement on 6 December, including four on Friday in one of the bloodiest days in two weeks.

Hundreds have been injured by Israeli military forces during demonstrations.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cancelled a scheduled visit with Pence, who is due to arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Following Trump's move, a senior Palestinian official said that the US vice-president was "not welcome in Palestine".

Palestinian officials have warned that Washington no longer had a role to play in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Palestinian officials - as well as Egyptian Muslim and Christian religious leaders - have cancelled scheduled meetings with Pence in protest at the embassy move.

"We understand that the Palestinians may need a bit of a cooling off period, that's fine," a senior White House official said Friday. "We will be ready when the Palestinians are ready to re-engage."

Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, a position nearly the entire world rejects saying its status should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Jerusalem is a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and many Arab leaders and others have reacted in anger.  

The UN security council is due to vote on Monday on a draft resolution that would render Trump's decision "null and void". The draft is expected to have broad support but almost certainly faces a US veto.