East Jerusalem residents threatened Wednesday to stage demonstrations, block roads and shut down municipal services in protest of President Donald Trump's expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Voices within the country's general Arab sector also called to march on Jerusalem and declare strikes and "days of rage."
In the midst of developments surrounding the Jerusalem issue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a video on his Facebook page in which he said, "I'm about to call a Cabinet meeting to promote the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, an important law for Israel. Our national historical identity is expressed in many important ways, but especially on this day (of Trump's speech on Jerusalem—ed)."
In light of mounting tensions surrounding the US president's expected announcement, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said he was not aware of any intelligence pointing to the eruption of a renewed wave of violence following Trump's speech.
In a Brussels press briefing organized by EIPA (Europe Israel Public Affairs), the pro-Israel lobby in the European Union, Erdan said he had spoken with Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and was not aware of any such intelligence. Demonstrations were possible, Erdan acknowledged, but mass violence was not expected.
Regarding Trump's announcement, Erdan said, "We don't think decisions should be made based on threats by the Palestinians. We've always considered Jerusalem our capital, for the past 3,000 years, and quite honestly expected embassies to be in Jerusalem by now."
"We should not forget Congress passed a law saying the embassy should be situated in Jerusalem, with every president since postponing the move. We consider the declaration to be of paramount importance. We created the Jewish state because of our history, which began in Jerusalem, but it's no excuse for a new wave of violence. Nevertheless, we're not afraid and are prepared for any eventuality," Erdan added.
An east Jerusalem resident by the name of Nasim said the US and Israeli governments should remember the struggle waged against the latter's installation of metal detectors at Temple Mount.
"The Israeli government and Trump have apparently learned nothing from the days we struggled against the gates and metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount." Nasim said.
"We left our home, families and work for two weeks We stayed in the streets and demonstrated. The struggle will be doubled this time with a very harsh response, if Trump goes on to declare (recognition). The Israeli government had better stand down on this matter, else it will pay a heavy toll."
Another resident named Sahr said, "If Jerusalem is declared to be the capital of Israel, I, and many other women, are prepared to go out on the streets and block roads. We will not be sending our children to school, they'll be right in the struggle with us. This time we are all prepared to die as martyrs, no matter the cost. Trump and Netanyahu are playing with fire."
A resident of east Jerusalem said that tensions ran so high Wednesday, he avoided leaving his home. "We will not be accepting a foolish declaration by Trump and Netanyahu. If it happens, Palestinian Authority leader (Mahmoud Abbas) and all of his ministers should resign. The weakness of their position is one of the reasons we got here in the first place," he complained.
The same resident predicted a violent struggle will ensue, which will include "shootings, Molotov cocktails and fireworks. This decision is a severe injury inflicted on us and will carry grave repercussions. Stop harming Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Everyone will flock here to prevent that from happening."
An Arab-Israeli leader called Abd al-Salam Kashua of Tira explained that despite the fact President Trump was "supposed as part of his role to mediate and push with all his might to the achievement of Middle East peace, he's willfully shirking the task. He has made an irresponsible decision."
"His behavior is grave. It breaches the status quo and may lead to explosion and the eruption of a wave of violence whose outcomes cannot be predicted," Kashua said.
"The move would also help Netanyahu receive media attention that would deflect from the investigations pending against him. I fear a popular uprising and a third intifada, which will bring ruin to the entire Middle East," he lamented.
Caricatures published in the Arab world in anticipation of the speech:
MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) insisted that the US had no authority to recognize Jerusalem as anyone's capital.
"The US has no authority over the Palestinian people and Trump does not represent the American establishment with this move. Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine, and we'll continue fighting for that," she said
"With this irregular move, the US has declared its irrelevancy as mediator and announced its complicity with the occupying force. It even scoffed at the American government's political tradition and broke international law, which considers Jerusalem to be an occupied city," Zoabi vented.
Her fellow party member Ahmad Tibi deemed Trump's decision a "political terrorist attack with multiple casualties."
Tibi then went on to explain it was also transgressing against international law: "It's further proof that the deal Trump speaks so much about will be ridiculous and fan the flames of conflict. Many Israelis—jubilant at Trump's announcement on Jerusalem—are mistaken in the long term, because it will have both political and popular repercussions."
Hassan Shaalan, Itamar Eichner, Moran Azulay and Roi Kais contributed to this report.