BEIRUT: The opening of the U.S embassy in Jerusalem was marked by mass protests along the Gaza border and the death of over 50 Palestinians, drawing condemnation from across the Lebanese political spectrum.
The embassy was moved from Tel Aviv after a highly controversial decision by U.S President Donald Trump last December.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri called the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem a "provocative" act that closes the doors for any attempts to reach peace between the Israel and Palestinians.
Hariri in a series of tweets Monday said he regrets "this decision that is igniting the anger of millions of Arabs, Muslims and Christians." He said Lebanon denounces the "provocative" decision that is deepening the conflict and allowing the "Israelis to spill more blood of innocent Palestinians and increases the intensity of extremism that threatens the world community."
The embassy move comes on the day marking Israel's creation 70 years ago, which Arabs call the "Nakba" or catastrophe, in reference to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from what is now Israel. Lebanon was one of the Arab countries to receive many of the Palestinian refugees. Today, there are more than 170,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group says the U.S. decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a unilateral step "that Palestinians will not accept and therefore it is worthless."
The group's deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, made his comments in a speech in Beirut on Monday marking the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba", adding that "God willing, the Nakba that happened 70 years ago will be a motive for change and liberation."
The U.S formally inaugurate the embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. The Palestinians held mass protests along the Gaza border to condemn the move, and to try to break a decade-old blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory by Israel and Egypt.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was quick to condemn the violence as well, saying "we denounce the use of live bullets on demonstrators which killed doezens and wounded hundreds."
Geagea also called on the international community to "intervene immediately to stop the massacre of Palestinians who are simply calling for justice based on the two-state solution."
Local Palestinians took to the streets to protest the move as hundreds gathered in front of the Saudi embassy in Beirut.
Organizers chose the Saudi embassy given the "close relationship between Trump and the Gulf Kingdom." - With AP.
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