Mahmoud Abbas has sharply criticised Donald Trump, saying the Palestinian Authority (PA) will never accept the US president’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The PA president made his comments on Sunday at the start of a two-day central council meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Ramallah.
“Politically, Jerusalem is our capital; in our religion, it is our capital; geographically, it is our capital,” said Abbas.
“But it was removed from the map with a tweet from Mr Trump,” he added.
“Now we say ‘No’ to Trump, we won’t accept his plan – we say the ‘deal of the century’ is the slap of the century,” noted Abbas, referring to the US president’s pledge to achieve the “ultimate deal” – peace in the Middle East.
The Palestinian leader also said that Israel had “ended” the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s with its actions, and also called the US ambassadors to the UN and to Israel – Nikki Haley and David Friedman – a “disgrace”.
“It was a very strong speech by Abbas … who used very critical language,” said Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Ramallah.
Trump’s decision on December 6 was widely condemned by the international community and ignited deadly protests in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Abbas had previously said the US could no longer play any role in the Middle East peace process following Trump’s move.
The status of Jerusalem is extremely sensitive and is one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the conflict.
Palestinian leaders want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says the city cannot be divided. Israel sees the entire city as its capital.
The PLO meeting in Ramallah is supposed to lay out the Palestinian strategy to confront the US in the wake of its Jerusalem decision.
Yet, questions over Palestinian unity were raised earlier on Sunday after it emerged that political movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad would boycott the event.
Both groups, which are not part of the PLO but are regularly invited to observe its meetings, refused to attend despite receiving an official invitation.
Hamas said would not send representatives to the council meeting because it objected to Abbas’ decision to hold the meeting in the occupied West Bank.
Islamic Jihad had earlier announced that it would not participate in the meeting in Ramallah, and later urged the Palestinian National Council (PNC) – the highest decision-making body of the PLO – “to end relations” with the US, and accelerate internal reconciliation, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are both based in Gaza, and the former governs the besieged Palestinian enclave.
In his speech, Abbas criticised the two movements for not attending the central council meeting, said Khan.
“Abbas said that this wasn’t about politics anymore, this was about the future of Jerusalem and of a Palestinian state,” our correspondent added.
“He said that this was a time where the Palestinians needed to get together because Jerusalem is the religious, cultural and political capital of Palestine.”
Khan said the council was expected to announce on Monday how it would move forward following the US decision.
“They will issue some recommendations, which will be key in shaping any future Palestinian negotiations not just with Israel but also the international community,” added Khan.[SOURCE: Al Jazeera News]