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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Palestinian Central Council conference in Ramallah.

Just days after a fiery speech in which Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called peace efforts by President Donald Trump “a slap in the face” and cursed the Trump administration by declaring, “May your house be destroyed,” Abbas continued his rhetoric at a conference focused on Jerusalem at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

“Jerusalem is the key to peace if it is our capital, and if it is not, then it is the key to war. Trump will need to choose,” Abbas said.

Abbas stated that Trump has “openly and blatantly provoked millions of Muslims” by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, a move that Abbas called “sinful.”

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian who will give up even one millimeter of Jerusalem,” he claimed.

On Sunday, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition last month of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Abbas said he would only accept a broad, internationally backed panel to broker any peace talks with Israel, but did not rule out an American role in such a panel. He told a meeting of senior Palestinian
officials in a speech that the move had disqualified America as a peacemaker.

Israel has said it would welcome the U.S. as a mediator, but an American bid to revive negotiations, led by Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has so far shown no progress. Talks have been frozen since 2014.

Trump has said that achieving an agreement would be the “deal of the century,” but Abbas was scathing on Sunday, saying, “We say to Trump, we will not accept his deal. The deal of the century has become the slap-in-the-face of the century.”

“We do not accept the United States as a mediator between us and Israel,” Abbas said. “Let it be an international committee formed at an international conference comprising four or five [countries or parties]. But the United States alone? No.”

Abbas also directly attacked President Donald Trump, who claimed he intended to cut American aid to the Palestinians over their intransigence to cooperate in peace negotiations. “I see a tweet on Twitter,” Abbas said, and quoted: “‘We will not give the Palestinians money because they refuse to negotiate.’”

Swearing at the president, Abbas said, “May your house come to ruin [an Arabic epithet—ed]. Where did you offer that to me? On the phone? On television?”

Abbas’ comments were made at a conference in Ramallah of the Palestinian Central Council. The Council is the Palestinians’ highest decision-making body, where 95 delegates will debate future strategy, and it was convened following President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“We will not accept anything the United States may try to impose on us and we will not accept its mediation following that crime,” said Abbas, referring to Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

“Jerusalem has been taken off the table with one swift tweet from Mr. Trump,” Abbas said on Sunday. “Because of that we are meeting now, because there is nothing more important than Jerusalem.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned Abbas’ Sunday-night speech. “What we heard [yesterday] from Mahmoud Abbas was terrible. He returned back to the ideas he expressed decades ago, when they were no less terrible,” said Rivlin.

Palestinian officials have said they will not meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence when he visits Egypt, Jordan and Israel this month.

By JNS and combined sources