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Anti-Trump Protests Flare In Beirut Near The U.S. Embassy

Protesters in Beirut waved the Palestinian flag Sunday in response to President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The move marked a dramatic shift from decades of American foreign policy.

Protesters clashed with security forces Sunday outside of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in response to President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

NPR's Ruth Sherlock reports from the demonstration that for the most part, the protesters were peaceful.

"Then, there was a commotion at the front, and suddenly police in riot gear fired volleys of tear gas. Some protesters threw rocks. Most scattered. Four people dragged away a woman who seemed hit very badly with tear gas, and was unable to walk."

President Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week marked a dramatic shift from decades of American foreign policy. Previously the U.S. position had been that Jerusalem's status should be resolved in peace talks between the two sides — a position shared by many world powers, who have located their Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv to avoid the appearance of taking sides in the dispute.

Trump said the decision was merely to "acknowledge the obvious," saying "this is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality."

The State Department warned that protests could break out in the region following the change in policy.

As NPR's Daniel Estrin has reported, "Palestinians protested throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some burned tires and threw rocks at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Some demonstrators were wounded."

There have also been demonstrations in other cities around the region and around the world. In Jakarta, Indonesia, Reuters reports that thousands of protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy with signs reading "Pray for Palestine" and "Freedom for Palestinians." Leaders in Indonesia — the world's largest Muslim country — have condemned Trump's decision.

A number of American allies have expressed alarm as well. In a statement U.N. Secretary‑General António Guterres said this was a moment of "great anxiety."

"There is no alternative to the two-State solution," Guterres said, "There is no Plan B."

Lebanon is home to almost half a million Palestinian refugees. The country officially condemned President Trump's decision, but NPR's Sherlock reports that many in Beirut feel that's not enough.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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