World

Palestinian Authority Says US ‘Unfit’ For Any Role In Peace Talks

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he will no longer accept a U.S. role in the Middle East peace process in light of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the U.S. policy change as a “crime” and said it threatens world peace. He asked the U.N. to take charge of the peace negotiations because Washington is now “unfit” to broker talks, reports the Independent.

Abbas’ remarks came at a gathering of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul where leaders were working to craft a unified response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem. Several Mideast leaders, including Turkish President Recep Erdogan, have already issued independent condemnations of the decision and called for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel has always considered Jerusalem its undivided capital, and the city has been the seat of Israeli government since the Jewish state was founded in 1948. However, Palestinians consider Arab East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967, as the capital of a future Palestinian state

While Trump’s decision reverses decades of U.S. policy, it makes good on campaign promises made by Trump and his predecessors going back to Bill Clinton. The Trump administration has called the recognition of Jerusalem a “reflection of reality” and said it will not undermine U.S. support for a negotiated peace settlement that leads to the creation of a Palestinian state.

The move was widely hailed in Israel and among U.S. lawmakers, but received near universal condemnation from Arab and U.S. allies in Europe. In the days following the decision, deadly violence erupted in Gaza and the West Bank, while anti-Israel demonstrators protested at several U.S. embassies in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries.

Amid the renewed tensions over Jerusalem’s status, the Trump administration is working to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinians to strike what Trump has called “the ultimate deal.” Led by White House advisor Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, with added pressure from Saudi Arabia, U.S. negotiators are crafting an agreement that reportedly lays out steps for a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty and no “right of return” for displaced Palestinians.

Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority receives hundreds of millions in U.S. assistance each year, appeared to dismiss those efforts Wednesday, saying Washington is not a “fair negotiator” in the peace talks.

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