An Iranian student group has said it will pay $100,000 to anyone who is able to destroy the newly opened U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
The embassy was opened yesterday, accompanied by protests in the Gaza Strip that saw at least 58 Palestinians killed by Israeli army snipers. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem has drawn international condemnation and dealt a blow to hopes of any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Now a hard-line Iranian organization—the Iranian Justice Seekers Student Movement—has distributed posters calling for attacks on the embassy. In English, Arabic and Farsi, the fliers say the group “will support anybody who destroys the illegal American embassy in Jerusalem.”
The group claimed it would pay a $100,000 reward to whoever destroys the facility. The distribution of the posters was first reported by the Farsi-language regional news website University Student News Network.
The decision to open the embassy has been widely criticized. Trump announced the plan when he officially recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in December 2017. Both Israelis and Palestinians consider Jerusalem their first city, so Trump’s decision to recognize the city as the Israeli capital undermined Palestinian hopes it will serve as the capital of their future state.
Most national embassies are located in Tel Aviv to avoid this issue. The U.S. was the first to announce it would relocate its facility, and several other nations have since followed suit.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that the embassy, which he called a "settlement outpost," stood as an obstacle to peace. The president said Palestinian negotiators would not take part in any peace talks mediated by the U.S. “in any way, shape or form.”
American and Israeli officials attending the opening ceremony yesterday stood in stark contrast to the bloodied protesters in Gaza. The American delegation was made up of Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and several lawmakers and religious leaders. Kushner has been criticized for comments suggesting protesters in Gaza “are part of the problem and not part of the solution.” These comments were edited out of the White House's official transcript from the event.
U.S. Marines are now being deployed to American embassies in a range of countries in the region to provide additional security against potential retaliatory attacks.
On Monday, Iran’s Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani said the U.S. has “entered a crisis of strategic decision-making that looks at the international arena immaturely and adventurously.” He warned, “Feeble-mindedness is costly for statesmen, and they will eventually have to pay the price.”
Iranian-American relations are at a low point after Trump announced he would withdraw from the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which lifted international sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs in its nuclear program. The remaining signatories to the deal are attempting to work with Iran to maintain the agreement, but if it fails Iranian leaders have threatened to resume their nuclear weapons research.
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