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U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

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After an emergency summit in Saudi Arabia, the 57 countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for a boycott of nations that move their embassies to Jerusalem. Saudi King Salman said, “The Palestinian cause is the cornerstone” of the organization, in a statement that appeared to be a setback to Jared Kushner’s peace plan that is said to skip over the question of Palestinian sovereignty.

Ambassador David Friedman’s religious remarks in Jerusalem Tuesday went well beyond his comment that Israel is “on the side of God.” Friedman likened the US-Israel relationship to the “altar” in the original Jewish temple in Jerusalem and called the embassy a “shrine” that people pray to and thank God for, and said the U.S. and Israel need to advance the relationship toward greater “holiness.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Monday, April 1, 2019. (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Last summer, Trump’s moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem opened the floodgates for a new era of Israeli provocations on the city’s Palestinians. Helena Cobban outlines the decades-long Zionist assault on the Palestinian presence and institutions in the holy city, and says that this new period will likely see greater government support for projects to extend the extremist settlers’ matrix of control over all parts of the Old City.

Looking back on this year, it is difficult to choose one moment, one tragedy, or one political decision that stands out among the rest. Palestinians witnessed a tumultuous year in 2018, as they saw hundreds killed from the West Bank to Gaza, their rights slowly stripped away inside Israel, and the heart of Palestinian identity, Jerusalem, pushed further out of reach. But as evidenced by the ongoing fight for the rights of refugees in Gaza’s Great March of Return, the fight against expulsion in places Silwan and Khan al-Ahmar, and the fight for equal rights as citizens in Israel, the fight for Palestinian rights continued as well.