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Abbas: No Role for US in Peace Process 12/13 06:21

   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 Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

   ISTANBUL (AP) -- 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 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.

   The Palestinians are committed to a peaceful resolution of the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abbas said, but after Trump's seismic shift on 
Jerusalem, Washington is not accepted as a fair negotiator.

   The speech marked a significant shift in Abbas' approach toward the United 
States, after years of focusing on courting U.S. goodwill because of 
Washington's role as sole mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

   Immediately after Trump's announcement last week, Abbas had said the U.S. 
effectively disqualified itself as a broker, but Wednesday's speech was more 
sharply worded and delivered to a global audience.

   Last week, Abbas aides said the Palestinian leader would not meet with Mike 
Pence during the U.S. vice president's planned visit to Israel and the West 
Bank next week. Abbas had initially planned to meet with Pence in the biblical 
West Bank town of Bethlehem, but two senior aides have said the meeting would 
not take place because of Trump's pivot on Jerusalem.

   The Istanbul gathering of heads of state and top officials from the 
57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation is also an opportunity for the 
Muslim world to offer its strongest response yet to Washington's move.

   Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan--- the current president of the OIC 
--- called on countries to urgently recognize the Palestinian state and 
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."

   Jerusalem's status is at the core of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict and Trump's Dec. 6 announcement was widely perceived as siding with 
Israel. It also raised fears of more bloodshed as past crises over 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 U.S. decision 
aims to "legitimize 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 U.S.' decision is null for us."

   Most countries around the world have not recognized 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 also attending the 
gathering in Istanbul.

   The secretary general of OIC called on countries that have not recognized 
Palestine as a state to do so. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen told the summit 
the U.S. decision on Jerusalem is "an exceptional challenge" facing Muslim 
nations and that it will fan violence in the region, giving extremists an 
excuse to sow chaos.

   In an emergency meeting in Cairo last weekend, Arab League foreign ministers 
demanded that the U.S. rescind Trump's decision. In a resolution long on 
rhetoric but short on concrete actions, the ministers also called for the U.N. 
Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning Trump's decision, but 
acknowledged that Washington would most likely veto it.

   Israel has considered Jerusalem its capital since the state's establishment 
in 1948 and sees the city as the ancient capital of the Jewish people. In the 
1967 Mideast war, Israel captured the city's eastern sector and later annexed 
it in a move that is not recognized internationally.

   The Palestinians equally lay claim to Jerusalem and want the eastern part of 
the city as capital of their future state. Some 320,000 Palestinians live in 
that part of the city and Palestinians claim a deep cultural, historical and 
religious connection to the city.

   The Old City, located in east Jerusalem, is home to sites holy to Jews, 
Christians and Muslims. These include the Western Wall, the holiest site where 
Jews can pray, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site.


(KA)

 
 
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