Palestinians no longer accept US role as mediator: Palestinian prez
Jerusalem: The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has formally declared that Palestinians will no longer accept the US as a mediator in the Middle East peace process following Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In his strongest public statement since Trump's announcement last week, Abbas called the move a "crime" that threatened world peace. He demanded the United Nations take charge of the peace process as Washington was no longer "fit" for the task.
Abbas was speaking at a hastily convened meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, where members were called upon to recognise a Palestinian state amid strong condemnations of both the US and Israel.
"Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state," Abbas told delegatees. "We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on. Because it is completely biased towards Israel."
Also in attendance were King Abdullah of Jordan, the Lebanese president Michel Aoun, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, and the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who called on all Muslim nations to unite to defend the rights of Palestinians.
The summit was opened by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause. He hopes to unite Muslim leaders behind a tough final statement from the meeting.
Erdoğan called for the acceleration of the recognition of Palestine by international institutions, denouncing the US move as an unlawful and provocative "red line" for Muslims, and describing Israel as an occupying and "terror" state.
In a sign of cracks in the unity of Muslim countries – and reflecting the wider tensions in the region – Saudi Arabia and Egypt were represented at a relatively junior level, and took a backseat in the proceedings.
In comments pointedly aimed at Saudi Arabia, Rouhani said the only reason Trump "dared" recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was because some in the region were seeking to establish ties to Israel. Rouhani's remarks – and the prominence of countries closer to Iran at the summit – suggest that the contentious issue of Jerusalem risks being sucked into the escalating confrontation between Riyadh and Tehran.