Donald Trump (L) and Mahmoud Abbas (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US is no longer qualified alone to act as a mediator because of its bias in favor of Israel and because of its decisions regarding Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and settlements, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.
Abbas, who was speaking during a joint press conference with visiting Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen in Ramallah, renewed his call for holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East. He also called for the establishment of a multi-party mechanism to proceed with the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The European Union can play an important role [in the peace process], alongside members of the United Nations Security Council,” Abbas said. The Palestinians, he added, will not agree to participate in any international conference “that is not based on international legitimacy.”
Abbas said that the Palestinians have not authorized anyone to negotiate on their behalf.
“We have the first and last word on the Palestinian cause,” he stressed. “No one can represent us or speak on our behalf.”
Abbas’s remarks refer to the upcoming US-Polish conference in Warsaw,
which is scheduled to convene later this month to discuss issues related to Syria, Yemen, Iran, terrorism, cybersecurity and missile development. Palestinian officials have called on Arab countries to boycott the conference because they claim that it is being held under the pretext of promoting normalization with Israel.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat was recently quoted as saying that the Palestinians did not authorize any Arab country to represent or speak on behalf of them at the Warsaw conference.
At the press conference, Abbas said that he was working to form a new PA government and prepare for long overdue parliamentary elections. However, he did not say when the elections would take place.
“We hope that everyone will cooperate with us to hold the elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem,” he said.
The Austrian president, for his part, said that his country and the EU continue to support the two-state solution.
“The EU has given much for building institutions in Palestine,” he noted. “We will continue to do so.” Austria and the rest of the EU countries are unhappy with the US administration’s decision to cut American funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees
(UNRWA), Van der Bellen said.
Meanwhile, Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Tuesday called for the formation of a national unity government that would prepare for new elections.
In a joint statement issued after a meeting between leaders of the two groups in Cairo, Hamas and Islamic Jihad also called for ending divisions among the Palestinians to “thwart the deal of the century” – a reference to US President Donald Trump’s as yet unseen plan for peace in the Middle East.
The terrorist groups’ leaders were invited to Cairo earlier this week for talks on ways of ending the dispute between Hamas and Fatah as well as the security and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
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