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Palestinian protestors at the Gaza-Israel border on May 14, 2018. Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The contrast could not be starker between the celebratory proceedings marking the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and the border clashes on Monday that have resulted in 52 casualties — the bloodiest day for Gaza since the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel.

Why it matters: Both events add more fuel to the already combustible dynamics between the Palestinians and Israel. The embassy move has led the Palestinian Authority to sever contact with President Trump's administration, severely reducing any chances for the resumption of peace diplomacy, while the deaths of Gazan protestors have increased the possibility of another war between Israel and Hamas.

The background: Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the U.S. embassy's new home fulfills his campaign promise to finally implement the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Previous presidents, concerned with the repercussions of such a decision, had signed national security waivers every six months postponing the relocation. While enthusiastically welcomed in Israel, the decision is opposed by the majority of the international community. It has also caused anger among Palestinian leaders and public.

The embassy protests in Gaza Monday follow a series of planned weekly demonstrations that began March 30 and culminate on May 15, the date marking the creation of Israel in 1948 that Palestinians termed Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) Day. Protestors, who include Hamas operatives as well as a much larger number of Gazan civilians, have been driven by a combination of nationalistic aims — especially the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees displaced in the 1948 war and their descendants — as well as the sharply deteriorating humanitarian situation in the coastal strip. While largely peaceful, some of these demonstrators did make attempts to breach the border fence between Gaza and Israel and to use kites fitted with Molotovs. Before Monday's casualties, more than 40 Palestinians had already been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began.

What's next: The immediate concern is whether the situation along the border can be de-escalated. While conventional wisdom holds that neither Hamas nor Israel are interested in a new all-out war, the high number of Palestinian casualties may impel escalation. Even if immediate escalation is avoided, however, the lack of policies to resolve the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza will likely result in ongoing instability in the impoverished, densely populated enclave. While President Trump and the administration talk about an American peace plan, the tensions in Gaza and the diplomatic disruption caused by the embassy move have deepened skepticism about its prospects of success.

Ghaith al-Omari is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Go deeper

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.