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Abbas: UN should replace US as Palestine-Israel mediator

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestine has been 'betrayed' by Washington [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 December, 2017

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States has disqualified itself as a mediator following the Jerusalem move, breaking with years of policy to court the US.
The Palestinian Presidency has said the United Nations should mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks instead of the US, following Washington's decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US Embassy in Israel to the contested city.

At a summit in Turkey, Arab and Muslim leaders "rejected and condemned" President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - the trigger for Abbas' sharp policy pivot - but stopped short of backing his more combative approach toward Washington.

When Trump was elected a year ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose presidency expired in 2009, went out of his way not to criticise the new president, for fear of harming the relationship.

On Wednesday, he expressed a sense of betrayal.

"We were shocked by the US administration," Abbas said. "While we engaged with them in the peace process for the sake of a deal for the ages, (Trump) delivered a slap for the ages."

Abbas said the United States has disqualified itself as a mediator. "We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process," he said.

The Palestinian leader said he remained committed to a two-state solution but that he would push for the UN to assume responsibility and "find a new mechanism" for resolving the conflict.

In another sign of a harder Palestinian stance, Abbas aides said earlier this week that he would not meet with Mike Pence when the US vice president visits the region this weekend.

Abbas was initially set to host Pence, a devout Christian, in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, following the vice president's stop in Israel.

Trump's nod to Israel on Jerusalem came at a time of mounting speculation about the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian deal the US might propose.

Wednesday's extraordinary summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation ended with a call on Trump to rescind an "unlawful decision that might trigger chaos in the region" and on the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

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