Muslim nations urge recognition of East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine

Muslim nations urge recognition of East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine

Mahmoud Abbas tells the Organisation of Muslim Cooperation to support Palestinians following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

President Mahmoud Abbas
President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has told an international summit that the United States was unfit to mediate the Mideast conflict.

The statement marked a major policy shift after decades spent courting American goodwill.

He announced the shift, which came in response to President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, at a summit of Muslim leaders that condemned the US move and called for world recognition of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.

Mr Abbas said Mr Trump’s decision was a “crime”, which came at a time when the Palestinians were engaged with Washington in a new push to reach a long-elusive peace agreement with Israel, the “deal of our times”.

“Instead we got the slap of our times,” Mr Abbas said.

“The United States has chosen to lose its qualification as a mediator … We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process.”

He suggested the UN should take over as mediator.

The summit of the 57-member Organisation of Muslim Cooperation concluded with the so-called Istanbul Declaration, outlining the bloc’s response to Mr Trump’s declaration.

It called the decision “null and void” and urged Mr Trump to reconsider the move, which it said was an “unlawful decision that might trigger chaos in the region”.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who hosted the summit, said it is “out of the question” for Washington to continue mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.

“That process is now over,” he said.

An earlier draft communique had similarly declared the US role over, but it was not clear if that language was ultimately adopted by the attendees.

Mr Erdogan said OIC members should look for a new mediator and consider taking the matter to the UN.

In earlier remarks to the summit, he called Israel a “terror state.”

Jerusalem’s status is at the core of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Mr Trump’s December 6 announcement was widely perceived as siding with Israel.

It also raised fears of more bloodshed as past crises over Jerusalem have triggered violence.

Mr Abbas said the Palestinians remain committed to international resolutions, which have formed the basis of the peace process, urging Muslim nations and countries with relations with Israel to take measures “to force it to abide by international consensus” to end its occupation of Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem.

Last week, Mr Abbas’ aides said the Palestinian leader would not meet with Mike Pence during the US vice president’s planned visit to Israel and the West Bank next week.

Mr 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 Mr Trump’s change in policy on Jerusalem.

King Abdullah II of Jordan told the gathering that Mr Trump’s “grave” decision threatened the resumption of any peace talks.

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