Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks following a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a message to Christians worldwide on Friday, held up Jesus as an inspiration to Palestinians fighting the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The December 6 recognition rewarded “illegal” Israeli settlement expansion and constitutes an “insult” to people all over the world, Abbas wrote in his annual Christmas message that was published in Ramallah by the official Wafa news agency.
The message came hours after he declared following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris that the US has disqualified itself as a mediator for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
. In the Christmas message Abbas went a step further, saying the Palestinians are inspired by Jesus to refuse the “injustice” of US-backed policies.
“While the US administration has decided to reward injustice and threaten others who do not support it, we will continue our path toward freedom and independence,” he said. “We are inspired by the message of Jesus, who refused injustice and spread a word of hope.”
Abbas quoted the New Testament as saying “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled.”
Referring to President Donald Trump’s threat to cut aid to countries for voting in the UN General Assembly to condemn the US move, Abbas added: “Threats against those who support justice will be met with the same spirit and response from our nation and from millions of dignified people around the world.”
Abbas wrote that Bethlehem is surrounded by 18 “illegal colonial settlements that are under ongoing expansion on Palestinian land,” and alleged that the city “continues to be affected by the Israeli plans to create the ‘Greater Jerusalem’ on the sufferings of Palestinians.
“Regretfully, the US has decided, against its obligations under international law, to reward such policies by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This has been an insult to millions of people worldwide and also to the city of Bethlehem. Washington’s decision has encouraged the illegal disconnection between the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, both separated for the first time in over 2,000 years of Christianity,” the PA president said.
Abbas charged that the US was supporting Israel in having an exclusively Jewish Jerusalem rather than one of “inclusion and respect.
“The US also ignored that east Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied state of Palestine, an occupied city where church property and future is being threatened by the occupier and groups of Zionist fundamentalists,” he wrote.
Abbas stressed that the Palestinians will reject the peace plan being drawn up by a team led by Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner that is expected to be issued soon. “It is because of the US decision to support illegality and the blatant violations of our rights that we will not accept the US as the mediator in the peace process, nor are we going to accept any plan from the US side.
“The US chose to be biased. Their future plan for Palestine will not be based on the two-state solution or the 1967 borders, nor will it be based on international law or UN resolutions,” he wrote.
Christians worldwide should take heed of Christian leaders in the Holy Land who condemned Trump’s decision, Abbas said. “We call upon world Christians to listen to the true voices of the indigenous Christians from the Holy Land – the same voices that strongly rejected the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital through their heads of churches. They are the descendants of the first followers of Jesus Christ and an integral part of the Palestinian people.”
Abbas concluded: “Let us rescue the message of hope that emerged from a humble grotto in Bethlehem to work for a better future, one where freedom overthrows oppression, where we speak truth to power, where peace, justice and coexistence prevail over occupation, apartheid and exclusivity, and where energies are directed to construction, not destruction.”