Lebanese Parliament speaker urges boycott of White House

Lebanese Parliament speaker urges boycott of White House

Nabih Berri, in Tehran, calls for closure of Israeli embassies in Arab and Islamic capitals, annulment of Oslo accords, after Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, center, meets with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, right, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, November 27, 2017. (Dalati Nohra/Lebanese Government via AP)
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, center, meets with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, right, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, November 27, 2017. (Dalati Nohra/Lebanese Government via AP)

The speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, on Tuesday called for a boycott of Donald Trump’s administration as well as the closure of all Israeli embassies in Arab and Islamic States until the US president reverses his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“I call on all Islamic embassies to move locations from Washington and to boycott Trump’s administration until he revokes his position regarding Jerusalem,” said Berri, who was speaking at the Conference of Islamic Parliaments in Tehran, according to a report by the Lebanese daily An-Nahar.

In his December 6 announcement, Trump said his decision merely recognized the reality that Jerusalem already serves as Israel’s capital and wasn’t meant to prejudge the final borders of the city. He also called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites. However, the US leader later said he had taken Jerusalem “off the table.”

Trump’s move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, while enraging Palestinians and prompting condemnations worldwide.

Berri, according to the Lebanese report, also called for closing all “Israeli embassies in Arab and Islamic capitals,” as well as the annulment of the Oslo peace accords, which have been the framework for relations between Israelis and Palestinian since the early 1990s and led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority.

Israel has embassies in just two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan.

The Lebanese speaker of parliament also called for halting the peace process between Israelis and Palestinian until “a clear announcement is made halting the settlements process,” the report said.

Senior Palestinian official Salim Zaanoun reads a statement at the end of a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 16, 2018. ( AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Berri’s statements closely mirrored decisions made Monday night by the Palestinian Liberation Organization Central Council (PCC) — the second highest decision-making body in the PLO — to annul the Oslo agreements, end security coordination with the Jewish state and recommend to the most senior Palestinian leadership to suspend ties with Israel until it “recognizes the state of Palestine,” reverses its annexation of East Jerusalem and stops settlement activity.

While withdrawing the PLO’s recognition of Israel could spark international backlash, it was unclear whether the vote was binding. A previous vote by the PCC in 2015 to suspend security coordination with Israel was never implemented. That vote was also reaffirmed on Monday.

The rare meeting of the PCC was called in response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On Sunday, as he opened the meeting, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who voted in favor of the suspension, called Trump’s peace efforts the “slap of the century.”

Palestinians want the city as the capital of their future state and Abbas has said Trump’s stance means the US can no longer be the mediator in peace talks with Israel.

The US president has sought to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, renewing talks stalled since 2014.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, April 26, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Speaking Sunday evening at the opening of the council, which brings together Palestinians from multiple political parties, Abbas told delegates, “We said ‘no’ to Trump, ‘we will not accept your project.’”

“The deal of the century is the slap of the century and we will not accept it,” the 82-year-old leader added, referring to Trump’s pledge to reach the “ultimate deal.”

Abbas, in his speech on Sunday, also issued a series of vicious attacks on Israel, asserting that the Jewish state was a “colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.”

His comments met with widespread criticism in Israel — particularly the perceived anti-Semitic comments, including denials of a Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. He went so far as to imply that European Jews during the Holocaust chose to submit to “murder and slaughter” rather than emigrate to British-held Palestine, and alleged that the State of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, imported Jews from Yemen and Iraq to the country against their will.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas was serving Israel’s interests by lashing out against Washington and disregarding the Jewish connection to Israel.

“He exposed what we have been saying all the time, that the root of the conflict is the basic refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any borders,” Netanyahu said from New Delhi, where he is on an official state visit, adding that the Palestinians would find no mediator to replace the Americans.

AFP contributed to this report.

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