Lebanese security forces clashed today with demonstrators near the US Embassy in Beirut as hundreds protested against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The Lebanese Army fired water cannons and tear gas as waves of young men hurled stones and burned effigies of Trump.

Hundreds attended the protest on the edge of Beirut, many wrapped in Palestinian scarves and flags.

Injured demonstrators were carried away from the front line of the clashes, but no deaths were reported. The Health Ministry later said that eight people had been hospitalised and 43 people treated at the scene.

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Lebanon is home to more than 500,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom fled modern-day Israel and the West Bank during the wars of 1948 and 1967. The Lebanese Government has never formally recognised their status as refugees, and Palestinians are barred from dozens of professions.

The White House's announcement last week triggered widespread protests, with tens of thousands across the region venting their anger.

In Jerusalem itself, violence has been limited to small confrontations between protesters and Israeli security forces. The larger demonstrations and clashes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza had largely died out by today, though skirmishes between protesters and security forces were reported in Ramallah and near Hebron in the West Bank.

But predictions of explosive violence across the region have not materialised, and traditional allies of the Palestinians have offered little concrete support. Hizbollah - the Lebanese militia movement founded in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon - has condemned Trump's decision, though its first mass rally will not take place until tomorrow.

Arab foreign ministers demanded that the United States rescind Trump's decision, calling it a "grave" development that puts Washington on the same side as the "occupation" and is a violation of international law. But a resolution they put forward was short on concrete actions. The group also called on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning Trump's decision, but it acknowledged that Washington would most probably veto it.


"We have taken a political decision not meant to reflect (what is going on in) the streets. Political work is responsible work," said Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit. "Jerusalem has been occupied for 50 years. This is an extended battle, a battle that will be escalated."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has often sought to position himself as a leader of the Islamic world, described Israel as a "terror state".

"We won't leave Jerusalem to the mercy of a child-murdering country," Erdogan said, accusing Israel of having no values other than "occupation and plunder". There were no indications that Turkey would sever its diplomatic relations with the country, however.

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In a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron repeated his Government's opposition to Trump's decision, describing it as a "threat to peace". He urged Netanyahu to negotiate with the Palestinians.

But Netanyahu showed few signs of budging. "Paris is the capital of France, and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," he said. "We respect your history and your choices. And I know that as friends you respect ours. This is essential for peace."

A protester runs amid tear gas during a demonstration in front of the US Embassy in Lebanon. Photo / AP
A protester runs amid tear gas during a demonstration in front of the US Embassy in Lebanon. Photo / AP

Standing at the far edge of the protest in Beirut, Faraj Shahin, a Palestinian, described the region's leaders as "traitors" who had sold out her countrymen.

"Arab leaders sold al-Aqsa for dollars, shame on them," she said, in reference to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the Islamic faith's holiest shrines.

With his face buried in a scarf to shield his eyes from the acrid tear gas, an 18-year old protester described the small-scale clashes as an attempt to "liberate" al-Aqsa from Israel.

Hours later, it was all over. Video footage from the aftermath showed street cleaners sweeping the area, wiping clean the soot left by a dumpster truck the protesters had set alight.