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One week on, Trump's policy shift has a limited effect on the ground

Violence has ebbed after an initial uptick, while the diplomatic response consisted of rhetoric but no action

    A Palestinian protestor with a slingshot at a checkpoint south of Nablus in the West Bank on Wednesday
    A Palestinian protestor with a slingshot at a checkpoint south of Nablus in the West Bank on Wednesday Getty Images

    An uptick in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, fresh rocket launches from the Gaza Strip and a nearly universal chorus of diplomatic condemnation marked the week after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    Although the Palestinian leadership had called for three “days of rage” in protest of Mr Trump’s proclamation, most of the rage on the ground had dissipated by Friday evening.

    In Jerusalem itself, there was expectation of rioting around main prayers at Al Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount, but after a tense half an hour the tens of thousands who gathered at noon dispersed quietly, save for a few minor scuffles around Damascus Gate.

    On Sunday, a Palestinian man stabbed a security guard at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, severely wounding him, however this was a single terror attack, and with the exception of a few isolated protests, the city remained relatively calm this week.

    A similar dynamic was at play in the West Bank, where the number of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces rose rapidly last Thursday and Friday, then fell rapidly to a handful of daily stone-throwing incidents this week.

    Palestinian medical sources reported hundreds of wounded in these events, but the great majority were minor and largely due to tear-gas inhalation.

    “We know from experience that one death, with the resulting funeral, can lead to escalation in violence, and we’ve given the soldiers strict instructions in using lethal methods,” one IDF officer told the JC this week.

    There were Palestinian deaths over the last seven days in the Gaza Strip, where two rioters were shot trying to reach the fences bordering Israel. Israeli intelligence sources allege Hamas paid Palestinian youngsters to storm them.

    Two Hamas members were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Friday night in retaliation to rocket firings from Gaza. 13 rockets were fired over the last week, three of them landing short within Palestinian territory. Four of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system and none caused Israeli casualties.

    Israel responded with attacks against Hamas installations, though the rockets were fired by smaller radical Islamic groups. This is the largest amount of rockets fired since the Gaza conflict in the summer of 2014, but intelligence sources do not believe it is a sign of a major escalation.

    The diplomatic condemnation, meanwhile, consisted of rhetoric but no actions. In a short visit to Paris and Brussels, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was told by French President Emanuel Macron and Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, that they opposed Mr Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and believed it was harmful to the peace process, but fears of any actual moves by EU failed to materialise.

    Palestinian leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas, also issued a long series of statements and speeches denouncing Mr Trump’s move. But despite his tough words the Palestinian leader has not ordered a suspension of security coordination with Israel.

    Even the Muslim world failed to muster much energy behind its denunciations. Of the 57 countries which are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, only seventeen leaders bothered to turn up to its emergency summit in Istanbul.

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