Abbas calls for African role in Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Abbas also urged African states not to establish diplomatic offices in Jerusalem.

January 29, 2018 02:00
2 minute read.
Abbas calls for African role in Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks following a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called for the African Union and its member states to play a role in a multilateral mechanism for the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

He made the comments at a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which multiple African heads of state attended.

“Pursuing peace efforts requires the establishment of a multilateral mechanism under the umbrella of the United Nations, and we call for the African Union and its member states to have representatives in this mechanism,” Abbas said.

Since US President Donald Trump’s decisions in early December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiate the relocation of the US Embassy to the city, Abbas has declared that the Palestinians will no longer work with an American-dominated peace process and called for the establishment of a multilateral mechanism to replace it.

Last week in Brussels, Abbas asked foreign ministers of EU member states to help in establishing a multilateral mechanism for the peace process.

He also invited African states to participate in an international conference “in accordance with international resolutions, the principle of the two-state solution along 1967 borders and ending the Israeli occupation.”

Some Palestinian officials have recently spoken about the possibility of holding an international conference similar to that of the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991.

Abbas also urged African states not to establish diplomatic offices in Jerusalem.

“We affirm the importance of all states committing to refraining from establishing diplomatic offices in Jerusalem in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 478,” he said.

UN Security Council resolution 478, which was approved in 1980, called on all states with diplomatic missions in Jerusalem to withdraw them.

Later in his speech, the PA president appeared to rebuke Trump for vulgar comments he allegedly made in reference to African nations.

According to multiple US reports, in early December, Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries” in a meeting at the White House with American lawmakers regarding immigration. Trump denied that he made the remarks.

“We condemn any insult from any party against the friendly African states and their peoples,” Abbas told a meeting of African leaders in Addis Ababa. “Africa and its native peoples have made great contributions to human civilization for centuries.”

In a statement in mid-January, the African Union’s representative mission to the US blasted Trump for his alleged comments, saying they “dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity.”

Abbas also praised the African Union for its support of the Palestinian issue, adding that the Palestinians “rely on the consistency of your noble positions... especially in light of the conspiracies to sidestep our people’s rights and liquidate its just issue.”

African countries have historically supported the Palestinians in international institutions such as the UN General Assembly.

However, Israel has recently undertaken efforts to make diplomatic inroads in Africa and persuade countries there to back its positions in international bodies.

In the past year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with several African heads of state and traveled to the continent twice.

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