Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during Al-Azhar's conference on Jerusalem, in Cairo, Egypt.
(photo credit: MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday used fiery rhetoric to slam US President Donald Trump’s changes to American policy on Jerusalem, and an official confirmed that the Palestinians will not be meeting with Vice President Mike Pence when he visit the region next week.
“[ Jerusalem] is the gate of peace and war, and Trump must choose,” Abbas said at a conference at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, referring to the American president’s decisions on Jerusalem as a “sin.”
At the White House on December 6, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, breaking with decades of American policy.
Abbas also reaffirmed that the Palestinians will not accept the US as an interlocutor for the peace process between themselves and Israel.
“Whenever a new American administration comes, it curses its predecessor,” he said. “How can we trust this great country to act as a mediator between us and Israel? We cannot trust it and will not accept it as a mediator.”
The PA president has said he wants the establishment of a multilateral framework for the peace process along the lines of the P5+1 and Iran nuclear negotiations.
Israel has said it will only work with the US as a sponsor for the peace process.
Abbas also accused the US of “choosing to violate international law and resolutions and bilateral agreements, and challenging the desire of the Arab, Islamic and world’s peoples.”
Later in his speech, the PA president said that the Palestinians will not resort to violence against Israelis.
“We will not go for terrorism and violence and we will continue to peacefully make demands until we obtain our rights,” he said.
The PA president has long called for nonviolence.
He has reportedly ordered his security forces to prevent attacks against Israelis.
Abbas added that Palestinians are facing a “great conspiracy” that dates back to long before the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
“We are confronting a great conspiracy... It is a colonial conspiracy to plant a foreign body in Palestine for the benefit of the West,” he said.
In a speech earlier this week in Ramallah, Abbas said Israel “is a colonial project that has no relationship to Judaism,” quoting Abdul Wahab al-Messiri, an Egyptian author.
Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum slammed the PA president for making the comment.
Some politicians descrieding it as antisemitic.
Separately on Wednesday, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad confirmed that the Palestinians will not hold any meetings with Pence when he visits the Middle East.
“We will absolutely not be having any meetings with him,” Ahmad said in a phone call.
Pence is scheduled to visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel.