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US set for deeply controversial Jerusalem embassy move

JERUSALEM (AFP) – The United States moves its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on Monday after months of global outcry, Palestinian anger and exuberant praise from Israelis over President Donald Trump’s decision tossing aside decades of precedent.

While a White House delegation and Israeli officials gather for the inauguration ceremony Monday afternoon, Palestinians are expected to protest in large numbers near the Gaza border with Israel and perhaps elsewhere.

Hundreds were already beginning to gather in Gaza on Monday morning and preparations were being made. Piles of tyres were being delivered to the border to be set alight and buses were shuttling demonstrators from cities to the border area.

There are concerns the Gaza protests less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) away will turn deadly if Palestinians attempt to damage or cross the fence with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

The inauguration that follows Trump’s December 6 recognition of the disputed city as Israel’s capital also comes at a time of heightened regional tensions.

It follows Trump’s announcement last week that the United States is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and Israeli strikes two days later on dozens of Iranian targets in Syria.

Those strikes came after rocket fire toward Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights that Israel blamed on Iran.

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