Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that Palestinians won’t accept any future role for the US in the peace process due to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and threatened to pull out of existing agreements with the Jewish state.
Abbas told an emergency meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul that there could be “no peace or stability” in the Middle East until Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of a Palestinian state.
Turkey is hosting the 57-member OIC in the wake of the US decision — a move widely criticized across the world but hailed by Israel. The summit is expected to forge a unified position of Arab and Muslim countries.
“Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state… There will be no peace, no stability without that,” Abbas proclaimed.
He slammed Trump’s declaration as a “crime” and a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” — as if he “were giving away an American city” — and asserted that Washington no longer had any role to play in the peace process.
Abbas said the Palestinians had been engaged with Washington in a new push to reach a peace agreement with Israel, the “deal of our times.” But “instead we got the slap of our times,” 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.
Abbas noted that the international community had nearly unanimously opposed Trump’s decision, calling it a “provocation” to Muslims and Christians and saying measures were needed to protect the identity of the divided city.
“We will tell the Israelis that we are no longer committed to any agreement from Oslo until today,” he threatened, asserting that the Palestinian Authority intended to return to the United Nations to to gain full membership.
“We agreed with America we would not join international institutions on the condition that American does not transfer its embassy, does not initiate any action against our office in Washington, and orders Israel to freeze settlement building,” Abbas said.
He also called on all OIC countries to reassess their diplomatic relations with all countries in light of their responses to Trump’s decision.
“If there is no Palestinian state along the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, there will not be peace in the region, in the territories or in the world,” he said. “They must choose.”
Addressing the gathering before Abbas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the summit’s host, urged the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the “capital of Palestine.”
“I am inviting the countries who value international law and fairness to recognize occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding that Islamic countries would “never give up” on that demand.
Erdogan sharply criticized Israel, calling it a “terror state.”
Erdogan said in his speech that Jerusalem is a “red line” for Muslims, who would not accept any “aggression” toward its Islamic sanctuaries, and asserted that the “process to include Palestine in international agreements and institutions should be sped up.”
Unified Muslim voice on Jerusalem
In calling Wednesday’s special meeting, Erdogan, whose country holds the rotating chairmanship of the OIC, the world’s main pan-Islamic body, was seeking to marshal Muslim leaders toward a coordinated response to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In his address last week, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
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. The final status of Jerusalem is a key issue in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim the eastern neighborhoods of the city as their future capital.
The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, but rejected by the international community.
In the Muslim and Arab world, Trump’s announcement prompted an outpouring of anger, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to denounce the Jewish state and show solidarity with the Palestinians. The decision also sparked protests in the West Bank and Gaza, with four Palestinians killed in clashes or Israeli airstrikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza and hundreds wounded.
The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip last week called for a new intifada against Israel and urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Lebanese President Michel Aoun are among the heads of state attending the meeting.
Erdogan — who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause and has repeatedly described Israel as a “terrorist state” — is looking for a tough final statement against the decision.
Arab countries have so far condemned Israel without announcing any concrete measures.
Arab League foreign ministers in a resolution after an emergency meeting in Cairo on Saturday urged Washington to rescind its Jerusalem declaration and the international community to recognize a Palestinian state.
In intensive telephone diplomacy in the last days, Erdogan has sought to win support from leaders beyond the Muslim world. At a joint press conference after talks in Ankara late Monday, he said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had taken a similar approach on the issue, accusing Israel of continuing to “add fuel to the flames.”
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians claim its eastern neighborhoods and the Old City as the capital of their future state.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.