Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Picture: AFP/ATTA KENARE
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Picture: AFP/ATTA KENARE

Tehran — A senior Iranian cleric called during Friday prayers for Palestinians to "rage" against Israel after US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, an ultra-conservative and a key leader of the main weekly Muslim prayers, said Trump had drawn a line on years of peace efforts by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

"He proved that the cure for the issue of Palestine is only, only, an intifada (uprising)," Khatami, who was appointed by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, said in his sermon at Mosalla, Tehran’s largest mosque.

"Only intifadas can turn day into a dark night for the Zionist regime," he said.

He urged the Palestinian people to rise and "rage against this occupying regime".

"Any damage that you can incur to this occupying and criminal regime will mean you have taken a step towards pleasing God," he said.

Trump’s declaration has triggered a global diplomatic backlash, with several world leaders warning the move could spark fresh unrest in an already volatile region.

Protests were being planned after Friday prayers in Iran and across the region and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas called for a "day of rage".

Iran’s foreign ministry condemned Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of its nemesis Israel, calling it "provocative and unwise".

President Hassan Rouhani said it was "wrong, illegitimate … and very dangerous".

In his Friday sermon, Khatami warned that Iranian missiles could reach Israel and destroy its cities.

"We build missiles and we will increase the range of our missiles as much as we can, to thousands of kilometres, in order to deprive White House dwellers of a good sleep," he said.

"If one day the Zionist regime wants to make a mistake, we will level Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground."

Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinian cause has been central to Iran’s foreign policy.

Israel has deployed hundreds of additional police officers following Palestinian calls for protests after the main weekly Muslim prayers against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem.

"Several hundred additional police and border police have been deployed inside and in the vicinity of the Old City," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

In Muslim-majority countries in Asia thousands of protesters rallied to condemn the US’s decision as authorities tightened security outside US embassies.

Leaders in both Indonesia and Malaysia have joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s decision.

Protesters, some shouting anti-US slogans and burning an effigy of Trump, gathered in front of the American embassy in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

In Indonesia, a few hundred demonstrators mostly clad in white rallied outside the US embassy in Jakarta, capital of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

The Jakarta rally was peaceful and the number of demonstrators appeared far lower than the 500 to 1,000 police had anticipated.

In Bangladesh, about 3,000 people gathered in front of the main mosque in the capital, Dhaka, to protest.

Members of the Bangladesh Islamic Chhatra Mojlish, a student organization, burned pictures of Trump.

In Indian-administered Kashmir, small groups of people protested in Srinagar, the capital of the Muslim-majority region.

"We condemn the idiot Trump’s decision," said a placard on an effigy of the US president.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday called on Muslims worldwide to strongly oppose any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In Kuala Lumpur, leaders from the ruling party United Malay National Organisation and the right-wing Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, both of which represent majority, ethnic-Malay Muslims, led Friday’s rally of several thousand people.

"Mr President, this is an illegal announcement. Jerusalem is an occupied territory," Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin said through a loud hailer towards the embassy.

The protesters later dispersed peacefully.

Protests have erupted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians to launch a fresh uprising against Israel.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

AFP, Reuters

Please sign in or register to comment.