Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, called Monday’s violence on the Gaza border “horrific” and said Palestinians view the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem as the end of the two-state solution.
Protests broke out Monday on the Israel-Gaza border, where according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 50 people died during protests over
“The situation is certainly horrific, and I think that symbolically this move represents for many Palestinians the end of their hopes for a two-state solution,” Merkley said Monday night on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” referring to the idea that a Palestinian state and an Israeli state can coexist.
Merkley, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he has “very much” supported moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, but “when it is part of a strategy to go forward with two people living productively, peacefully, side-by-side.”
“The symbolism really represents to people living in the West Bank and Gaza that there is no path for them to ever have a land of their own, they’ve been under occupation,” Merkley told Burnett. “It’s an extraordinarily difficult life, and we have – we, the United States – have championed the vision that there would be a future, a brighter future ahead.”
President Donald Trump’s administration announced it was breaking with long-held tradition and moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but the relocation officially took place on Monday – a move that has been praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“What an amazing day! Thank you, @POTUS Trump,” Netanyahu said in a retweet to Trump.
Most people who died were killed by Israeli fire near the border, and more than 2,700 people were injured. CNN journalists heard gunshots in spurts and saw a tank moving towards the fence in the border area of Malaka. Israeli drones also dropped tear gas in an effort to disperse protesters.
The death toll on Monday was the most fatalities seen in one day since the protests started more than six weeks ago.
“Well there was a lot of bloodshed today, I don’t think this will be seen as the beginning of peace,” Merkley said about the embassy’s move.
CNN’s Ian Lee, Tamara Qiblawi, Abeer Salman, Nicole Gaouette and James Masters contributed to this report.