Abbas Calls on World to Reconsider Recognition of Israel After Trump's Jerusalem Move

Speaking at emergency Islamic summit, Palestinian leader says Saudi king promised him there will be no peace deal without Palestine and East Jerusalem as its capital

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan poses with Jordan's King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017.
OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world’s nations Wednesday to reconsider their recognition of Israel after the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"We call on world nations to reconsider their recognition of Israel over its conduct toward Palestinians and its dismissal of decisions by the international community with the backing of the United States," Abbas told an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Turkey.

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Abbas also called on world nations, in particular European countries, to officially recognize Palestine within the 1967 borders. He said Saudi Arabia's King Salman promised him personally that there will be no peace deal without a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"Trump gave Jerusalem to the Zionist movement as if it as an American city, but for the first time the entire world stood against him, even Britain, Canada and Australia," Abbas said.

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The Palestinian leader said U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration was in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. "It crosses all the red lines," he said. “Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine.”

Abbas said it was unacceptable for the U.S. to have a role in the Middle East peace process because it was biased in favor of Israel. He added that the Palestinian Authority could withdraw its membership in international bodies over the decision.

"We came to say 'no' to the Trump declaration and to the policy of occupation and ethnic cleansing carried out by Israel in Jerusalem," Abbas said, adding that the decision will cause extremist organizations and others to turn the conflict into a religious one.

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The Palestinian leader made the remarks at a summit in Turkey of leaders and top officials from Islamic nations that is expected to forge a unified stance against Washington's policy shift.

The summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation could also offer the Muslim world's strongest response yet to Washington's move.

Turkey, the summit host, has sharply criticized what it described as weak Arab response so far on the issue of contested Jerusalem.

Speaking at the meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Washington's decision as a reward for Israeli "terror acts" and said Jerusalem was a red line for Muslims. For the second time this week, Erdogan called Israel "a terror state."

The Turkish leader called on world powers to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and said the United States should reverse its decision.

While Saudi Arabia's King Salman opted out of attending the summit, he did make public remarks on the topic of Jerusalem on Wednesday, saying that the Palestinians have a right to East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, AFP reported.

"The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people's legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital," King Salman said, according to the report.

In his address to the summit, Jordan's King Abdullah rejected any attempt to change the status of Jerusalem or its holy sites, and said peace would not come to the region without a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"All violence... is a result of a failure to find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue," he said.

King Abdullah's Hashemite dynasty is custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, making Amman particularly sensitive to any changes of status after the Trump's administration's decision.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the summit that all Muslim nations should resolve their internal disputes through dialogue and should work together to defend the rights of Palestinians against Trump's decision. 

Rohani said Israel had planted seeds of tension in the crisis-hit region and called for unity among Arab nations against Israel. 

Iran's leader also took to Twitter to criticize the U.S. decision, saying it shows the U.S. lacks any respect for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation.

Rohani wrote that the move showed the U.S. was not "an honest mediator and will never be", adding that Washington only wanted to "secure the interests of the Zionists." 

The secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on countries who have not recognized Palestine as a state to do so.

Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen told the summit that the U.S. decision is "an exceptional challenge" facing Muslim nations. He added that the move will fan violence in the region, giving extremists an excuse to sow chaos.