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January 15, 2018 8:21 am

In Scathing Speech, Abbas Slams Trump, Says Palestinians Won’t Accept US as Peace Mediator

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in Ramallah, Jan. 14, 2018. Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday 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.

The Palestinians are seething at US President Donald Trump’s recognition last month of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Abbas told a meeting of senior Palestinian officials in a speech that the move had disqualified the America as a peacemaker.

Israel says it would welcome the US 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: “The deal of the century is actually the slap of the century, and we will return it.”

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“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’s comments were made at the start of a two-day meeting in Ramallah of the Palestinian Central Council, the Palestinians’ highest decision-making body, where 95 delegates will debate future strategy.

“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 was taken off the table by a tweet from Mr. Trump,” Abbas said on Sunday. “Because of that we are meeting now, because there is nothing more important than Jerusalem.”

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

Since 2002, a “Quartet” of negotiators comprised of representatives of the US, Russia, European Union and UN has been assigned to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, but has failed to show any result.

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