Abbas says no role for US in peace process

ISTANBUL: The Palestinian president said Wednesday his people will not accept any role for the United States in the Mideast peace process “from now on,” following President Donald Trump’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas spoke at a gathering of heads of state and top officials from Islamic nations at a summit in Turkey that is expected to forge a unified Muslim world’s stance against Trump’s move.

Abbas called Trump’s decision a “crime” that threatened world peace. He called on the United Nations to take charge of the peace process and create a new mechanism, arguing that Washington is no longer “fit” for the task.

He also said that the Palestinians are committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but that after Trump’s pivot on occupied Jerusalem, Washington is not accepted as a fair negotiator.

The Istanbul gathering of heads of state and top officials from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation could offer the Muslim world’s strongest response yet to Washington’s move.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — the current president of the OIC — called on countries to urgently recognise the Palestinian state and occupied Jerusalem as its capital.

Erdogan has been among the most vocal critics of Trump’s announcement. In remarks to the summit, he said Israel is an “occupying state” and a “terror state.”

Occupied Jerusalem’s status is at the core of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Trump’s December 6 announcement was widely perceived as siding with Israel. It also raised fears of more bloodshed as past crises over occupied Jerusalem had triggered violent outbreaks.

Earlier, in opening remarks to a pre-summit meeting, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told OIC foreign ministers that the US decision aims to “legitimise Israel’s attempt to occupy Jerusalem.”

“They expect the Islamic nation to remain silent,” he said. “But we will never be silent. This bullying eliminates the possibility of peace and the grounds for shared life. The US’ decision is null for us.”

Most countries around the world have not recognised Israel’s 1967 annexation of east Jerusalem. Under a long-standing international consensus, the fate of the city is to be determined in negotiations.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, Jordanian King Abdullah II and top ministers of numerous nations were to attend the gathering in Istanbul.

In an emergency meeting in Cairo last weekend, Arab foreign ministers demanded that the United States rescind Trump’s decision to recognise occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In a resolution long on rhetoric but short on concrete actions, the ministers also called for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning Trump’s decision, but acknowledged that Washington would most likely veto it.

Some 320,000 Palestinians live in that part of the city and Palestinians claim a deep cultural, historical and religious connection to the city.


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