Palestinian protesters throw eggs at US delegation

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Beit Jala (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Palestinian protesters on Monday threw eggs at a US delegation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and held up signs with anti-American slogans in a bid to prevent them attending an event.

Around 15 protesters confronted a vehicle from the US consulate in Jerusalem as it made its way into Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, and pelted it with eggs, an AFP photographer said.

They also held up signs that read: "US government you are not welcome in Palestine".

Another one read: "Hey Trump, Jerusalem is not the capital of Zion".

The cars then left the area.

In December, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and last week the United States transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

His move has infuriated Palestinians who consider the eastern part of Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state. Israel considers the entire city its capital.

A US State Department official denounced the protest as "intimidation", saying the delegation from the US consulate was there to "promote education and cultural exchange with the Palestinian people."

"Though no one was hurt, the objective was clearly intimidation. The United States absolutely opposes the use of violence and intimidation to express political views."

No further details were provided.

The Palestinian leadership has frozen ties with the White House over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

On Monday, as the US inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem, 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during mass protests and clashes along the border between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel.

Israel says its actions were necessary to defend the border and stop mass infiltrations from Gaza, which is run by Islamist movement Hamas.

Jerusalem's status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.