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Israeli airstrikes kill two amid unrest over Jerusalem

Israeli security forces launched airstrikes in the Gaza strip on Saturday, killing two Palestinian gunmen and bringing the death toll to four in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s decision this week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jane Ferguson joins Hari Sreenivasan from Jerusalem.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Unrest continue throughout the Muslim world today marking the 'third day of rage' call by Palestinian protesters. This after President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Israeli security forces fired tear gas and skunk water at Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem in the West Bank and launched air strikes in Gaza killing two Palestinian gunmen and bringing the death toll there to four. President Trumps announcement along with a plan to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem has sparked enunciations from around the world. In a speech in Istanbul today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the decision entirely provocation. Erdogan plans to convene Muslim leaders for an urgent meeting in Turkey next week. Joining me now via Skype from Jerusalem is our weekend special correspondent Jane Ferguson. Give us a sense of how people are feeling?

  • JANE FERGUSON:

    What you see on the street today is a continuation of protests that we saw yesterday although they are smaller. So anger is boiling over in places like Bethlehem and the West Bank but also here in Jerusalem and in East Jerusalem in particular there were some small protests today. At one end, East Jerusalem was actually broken out by Israeli security forces on horseback. What we're not seeing is the level of violence or rioting that could have happened that people were predicting to a certain extent whenever the announcement was made by President Trump and that might be because many people here feel that the peace process is fairly dead in the water at the moment anyway and this doesn't perhaps rile up the streets inside Jerusalem as much as, say for instance, a few months ago when we had massive protests as a result of metal detectors being placed outside the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. But still, they're still on a diplomatic and political level here. There's absolute dismay amongst Palestinians and a lot of celebration as you can imagine amongst the Israelis.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    What does this mean in their larger timeline for Mideast peace if the people that you've talked to on the streets feel that the process has kind of stopped? Do they think that this will be the catalyst to try to bring people back to the table? Spread them further apart?

  • JANE FERGUSON:

    At the moment the major problem on the talking point amongst Palestinians here is if there is any attempt or any real intent by the White House to restart peace talks then how can they view the Americans as honest brokers? Basically they're saying that they are not being fair to both sides by saying that they recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because of course the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. So the main sticking point amongst Palestinians at the moment is how can they really trust the Americans to be a fair broker. Now for instance, we've got Mike Pence who is expected to come here and visit in the region later this month. And now we're hearing a list of growing names saying they won't even meet with the Americans when he goes to the region. Today we just heard that the head of the Coptic church in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II, has said he will not meet with Pence because of the decision by the U.S. administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We've also heard that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he won't. On top of that Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Imam of the El Azhar mosque in Cairo – that's the highest religious authority for the Sunni Islamic world – all said they won't even meet with Mike Pence. So how the Americans are going to get the Palestinians to talk to the Israelis when they're not even talking to the Americans is going to be a huge challenge.

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