Palestine’s Abbas slams Jerusalem decision

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Muslim leaders yesterday that a US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a crime which showed Washington should no longer play a role in Middle East peace talks.

Addressing an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Turkey, Mr Abbas said President Donald Trump was giving Jerusalem away as if it were an American city. “Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding the decision was “the greatest crime” and a violation of international law.

The summit was hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who has bitterly criticised the US for its stance on Jerusalem.

“I invite all countries supporting international law to recognise Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine. We cannot be late any more,” he told leaders and ministers from over 50 Muslim countries.

He described Mr Trump’s decision as a reward for Israeli actions including occupation, settlement construction, land seizure and “disproportionate violence and murder”. “Israel is an occupying state (and) Israel is a terror state,” he said.

Ahead of the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Muslim nations should urge the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state within its pre-1967 borders.

The Trump administration says it remains committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians and its decision does not affect Jerusalem’s future borders or status.

It says any credible future peace deal will place the Israeli capital in Jerusalem, and ditching old policies is needed to revive a peace process.

Mr Abbas told the leaders Washington could no longer be an honest broker. “It will be unacceptable for it to have a role in the political process any longer since it is biased in favour of Israel,” he said. “This is our position and we hope you support us in this.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the Muslim world should overcome internal problems through dialogue so it could unite against Israel. “America is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and it has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians.”

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