Erekat: No talks with US until Trump reverses Jerusalem recognition
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Erekat: No talks with US until Trump reverses Jerusalem recognition

Top Palestinian negotiator says PA is weighing all options in response to Washington's move; Abbas welcomes 'global consensus' at Security Council

Palestinian chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, speaks during a press conference in the West Bank city of Jericho on February 15, 2017. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Palestinian chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, speaks during a press conference in the West Bank city of Jericho on February 15, 2017. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

The Palestinian Authority will not hold discussions with Washington until the US walks back its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Friday night.

Erekat told the Al-Jazeera network that the PA was weighing all options in response to the declaration this week by US President Donald Trump.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the UN Security Council emergency session Friday in which every speaker, apart from the American and Israeli envoys, condemned the US move.

Abbas in a statement said he “welcomes the international consensus condemning Trump’s announcement, as was apparent at the Security Council session this evening.” He added that the US was no longer fit to oversee the peace process.

At the session, Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour said Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ultimately move the US embassy there should be reconsidered and rescinded.

“There can be no just and lasting solution to the Palestine question without a just solution” to Jerusalem, he said, calling the city “the heart of Palestine.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers a speech during a United Nations Security Council meeting on December 8, 2017 in New York City (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the session that Trump knew his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would raise “questions and concerns,” but that he took it to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Haley said anyone who used Washington’s actions as a pretext for violence was “only showing” they were not partners for peace.

Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour at the UN Security Council, December 8, 2017 (United Nations)

Senior Palestinian officials have said a previously planned meeting between Abbas and US Vice President Mike Pence is unlikely to take place following the declaration.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official, said Thursday that Pence, who is due to travel to Egypt and Israel in the second half of December, was now “unwanted in Palestine.”

Abbas’s spokesman appeared to confirm that a meeting was no longer in the cards.

“Jerusalem is more important than the US administration, and we will not give it up for a meeting,” he said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas poses for photographs at the European Parliament in Brussels on June 23, 2016. (Thierry Charlier/AFP/Getty Images via JTA)

Pence is set to visit Egypt, Israel and the West Bank later this month. When announcing the trip in October, the White House said Pence would hold meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas amid US efforts to relaunch peace talks.

Trump spoke about the Pence visit in his speech Wednesday, with his vice president at his side, noting, “Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.”

Responding to rumors the meeting could be called off, a White House aide said Pence “still plans to meet with Abbas as scheduled” and “believes it would be counterproductive for him to pull out of the meeting.”

Following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, Abbas slammed the move and said the United States has ended its historic role as the key sponsor for Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

In his Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

AFP contributed to this report.

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