HOLY WAR Donald Trump accused of ‘opening gates of hell’ for recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as mass protests rage Historic decision flies in the face of world leaders and allies as huge demonstrations sweep across the Middle East
FURIOUS protests have swept the Middle East after Donald Trump officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — a decision likened to “opening the gates of hell”.
The historic announcement sparked shocking scenes of flag-burning in Palestinian territories and Arab nations while world leaders and allies condemned the move.
As protesters took to the streets from Turkey to Egypt, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered representatives in Washington DC to return home as he said the US had “withdrawn from its role in the peace process”.
In a scathing rebuke to Trump’s speech on Wednesday night, Mr Abbas insisted Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine”.
Palestinians set fire to pictures of the President as terror group Hamas threatened a “day of rage” on Friday in response to the announcement.
They released a chilling message ordering Palestinians to rise up and send a message to Israel.
And the thugs — which run the Gaza strip under the leadership of Ismail Haniyeh — insisted Trump had opened “the gates of hell on US interests in the region”.
Haniyeh said the Palestinian people “know how to respond properly to the disregard of their feelings and sanctuaries.” Mr Trump’s White House speech officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — a decision that he said was “long overdue” after repeated delays by past Presidents.
He said: “We cannot solve our problems by repeating the same failed strategies of the past. My announcement marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict.”
Fears are mounting that Trump’s decision could see the region spiral into further bloodshed and delay the prospect of peace. Slamming the inaction previous administrations, Trump told White House media: “After more than two decades of wavers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” He added: “I have judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the US and the pursuit of peace.”
Backing Trump’s speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it marked a “historic day” and is an “important step towards peace”. He added: “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.
It’s been the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years … Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia.”
“We’re profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the US embassy here.”
But opponents believe Trump’s speech amounted to a declaration of war — with Hamas calling it the “kiss of death” to the two-state solution.
Even Western allies issued firm challenges to Trump’s shifting of US foreign policy. Theresa May insisted Jerusalem’s status should be agreed by both Israel and Palestine and said she wants the two countries to have the city as a “shared capital”.
She said she disagreed with Donald Trump’s “unhelpful” decision, after earlier telling the House of Commons: “We continue to support a two-state solution.
We recognise the importance of Jerusalem.”
France’s Emmanuel Macron called on the White House to step back from the announcement — while Pope Francis defended the “status quo” of the city as he prayed that “wisdom and prudence prevail”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “From day one I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians”.
Furious responses came from across the Middle East, as Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Lebanon slammed the move as illegal and irresponsible.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister described the speech as a “dangerous escalation and death sentence for all who seek peace”.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said Trump “destroyed the two-state solution.”
He added: “As a chief Palestinian negotiator, how can I sit with these people if they dictate on me the future of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“I think tonight he is strengthening the forces of extremists in this region as no one has done before”.
Trump also announced the US State Department will begin plans to build a new US embassy in Jerusalem — which he said would stand as a “magnificent tribute to peace”.
The United States has become the first country to make the distinction since Israel was created in 1948.
The city has been at the heart of constant and violent conflicts between the nations because it is home to key religious sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Mr Trump said tonight: “We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.
“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides.”