Tala Anati has visited Jerusalem only twice, but she is very much opposed to the recent U.S. announcement declaring it the capital of Israel.
“Jerusalem is like our second mother, and it’s the heart of Palestine,” Anati said while clutching a Palestinian flag. “It’s the capital, it’s the one and only capital for Palestine.”
Anati, 16, was one of hundreds of Palestinians who demonstrated on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ramallah as part of a general strike by Palestinians that saw schools, universities, government offices and many shops shuttered for the day.
In a speech on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump called Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announced plans to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv.
“I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Trump said.
In a speech responding to Trump’s announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision was “an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu also called on other nations “that seek peace to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move their embassies here.”
While the move was not a surprise, it still landed like a body blow for many Palestinians, who are now wondering whether there will be U.S. recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a potential future Palestinian state.
“We’re so angry today and we, all of the Palestinians, stopped their work and didn’t go to school, just to prove to the world that we are here and we will keep going and we will not stop,” Anati said.
‘Our message to the world’
Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”
Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, called for a “day of rage” on Friday, which he said should “be the first day of the intifada,” which was essentially a call for a new uprising against Israel.
In a speech on Wednesday, Haniyeh called Trump’s statement a “declaration of war.”
Fatah, the faction led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is looking to the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League to launch diplomatic protests against the U.S. policy shift.