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Palestinian rights groups rally to tell Trump: Hands off Jerusalem

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Palestinian rights groups rallied in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon against President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

About 200 protesters gathered peacefully outside the federal building on Wilshire Boulevard near UCLA, holding signs that proclaimed “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.” They chanted, “Free, free Palestine, occupation is a crime,” and, “No wall, no ban, no embassy on stolen land.”

“Jerusalem is, and will remain a Palestinian city,” said Amani Barakat, national chair of Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return, who organized the rally. “A city of inclusion and coexistence rather than exclusion and bigotry.”

A group of about 30 counter-protesters gathered across the street holding “Stand with Israel” signs and yelling, “Stand with God’s people.”

Trump made the announcement on Wednesday, saying “old challenges demand new approaches,” and he initiated a process to transfer the U.S. Embassy to the ancient city.

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” he declared in a speech at the White House. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”

The change reversed decades of U.S. policy and sparked widespread international criticism.

Sunday’s protesters also took aim at Saturday’s bombing of Gaza by Israel.

Israeli airstrikes killed two Hamas members early Saturday following a rocket attack on Israel, according to the Associated Press. The Israeli military said it targeted four Hamas facilities in response to rockets fired the previous night, including one that landed in the town of Sderot without causing casualties or major damage. The military said it struck warehouses and weapons manufacturing sites, after which Hamas said it had recovered the bodies of two of its men.

“Trump’s declaration proves the very points we have been making for years: The U.S. is incapable of being an even-handed mediator,” said Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

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© 2017 the Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.