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Palestinians go on strike in protest at US vice president’s visit, US policies

Shops in the West Bank city of Ramallah remained closed on Tuesday as Palestine observed a general strike to protest a visit by US Vice President Mike Pence to the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have gone on a general strike in protest at US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds and Washington’s decision to recognize the holy city as Israel’s “capital.”

According to the Palestinian WAFA news agency, the strike began on Tuesday as Pence was scheduled to visit al-Buraq Wall, located at the western boundary of the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, which is known by Israelis as the Western Wall. Both Muslims and Jews view the site as sacred.

Shops, government institutions, and businesses closed as part of the strike action. Public transportation unions also participated in the walkout action.

Hospitals and clinics as well as some educational facilities were excluded from the strike.

The Fatah movement and other Palestinian political forces called for the strike to protest US President Donald Trump’s globally-condemned decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the so-called capital of the Israeli regime and Pence’s visit.

US Vice President Mike Pence (L) delivers a statement as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens, in Jerusalem al-Quds, on January 22, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Pence landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday, marking the highest-level visit by a US official to the region since Trump’s decision. The visit comes as part of Pence’s Middle East tour, which included Egypt and Jordan.

Last month, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis the city triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, and other Muslim countries.

Pence met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. He also addressed the Israeli parliament later in the day, announcing that Washington was planning to relocate the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds “by the end” of 2019.

Reaffirming Washington’s unflinching support for the Tel Aviv regime, the US vice president also called for the resumption of so-called peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

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