Abbas: We never said no to resuming peace talks
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'This is an Islamic and Christian land, by all standards'

Abbas: We never said no to resuming peace talks

PA president denies he turned down invitation to negotiate; says US no longer qualified to act as honest broker; won't accept Jerusalem as united Israeli capital

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (C) attends the "Jerusalem Conference as the Capital of the Islamic Youth" in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 6, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)
Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (C) attends the "Jerusalem Conference as the Capital of the Islamic Youth" in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 6, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

The Palestinians have never rejected any invitation to resume peace talks with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

“Our hands are extended for peace through negotiations,” Abbas said. “We support the war on terrorism in every place in the world.”

Still Abbas, who was speaking at a the Jerusalem Capital of Muslim Youth 2018 festival in Ramallah, reiterated that the US administration was no longer qualified to act as an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

He said that the Ramallah event was aimed at sending a message to the world that Jerusalem is exclusively the capital of the Palestinian state, though he later said Jerusalem belonged to the Muslim and Christian faiths.

Representatives of 27 Arab, Islamic, and EU countries attended the opening ceremony, including 14 sports and youth ministers.

Khaled Al-Roudhan, Kuwaiti minister of commerce and industry, and minister of state for youth affairs, said in a statement upon his arrival in Ramallah: “Our participation along with a number of sisterly states is also an affirmation that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. Kuwait’s bonds with the Palestinian cause is solid and old, and its continuous support for the Palestinian cause has not changed for decades and years.”

In his address, Abbas renewed his criticism of the US administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East, the details of which have yet to be made public.

“No one is authorized to sign [any deal] on our behalf,” Abbas said, referring to reports that the US administration was seeking to achieve peace between Israel and some Arab countries.

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as US Vice President looks on, at the White House, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Abbas criticized US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as well as his threats to cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“What is there left to talk about now that Jerusalem and the refugees are off the [negotiating] table?” Abbas asked.

“We won’t talk to anyone who excludes the refugees from the final status issues. There are issues that we have already agreed to – the vision of two states on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as our capital. After that, we will sit at the table to discuss all the issues.” he said.

Abbas dismissed as “lies” allegations that the Palestinians were refusing to return to the negotiating table with Israel. “I challenge any person who says that he invited us, even once, to the negotiations and we said no.”

The Palestinians, Abbas said, won’t allow anyone to say that Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel or to move their embassy to the city.

“We won’t accept or permit such talk,” he added.

“This land is an Islamic and Christian land, by all standards. Jerusalem is the eternal Palestinian capital of Muslim youths; it is also the capital of Christian youths,” said the PA president.

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