Palestinian Leaders Vote for Suspension of Recognition of Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas


Palestinian Central Council (PCC), ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the second highest decision-making body, to suspend its formal recognition of Israel. The move comes as an expression of Palestinian fury over US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Moreover, the vote ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization to suspend its recognition of Israel until it “recognizes the state of Palestine”, cancels its annexation of east Jerusalem and stops settlement activity, a statement said. It is unclear whether the vote is binding.

The vote on Monday has also reaffirmed a 2015 PCC order to suspend security coordination with Israel which was never implemented.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, on Sunday, called Trump’s peace efforts the “slap of the century.”

The Palestinian statement also backed comments by Abbas on Sunday that the Oslo peace accords (1990s), which form the basis of the Palestinians’ relations with Israel, were “finished.”

The Palestinian president had said that Israel had ended all accords through its actions, referring to activities seen as eroding the possibility of a two-state solution such as persistent settlement building.

On Monday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas’ comments had “torn off” his “mask” as a supposed moderate.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and does not recognize Israel, appeared to welcome the vote but said in a statement that the “real test” would be “to implement it effectively on the ground and put in place the necessary mechanisms.”

Palestinians want the annexed eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state, and Abbas has said Trump’s stance means the United States can no longer be the mediator in peace talks with Israel.

The US president has sought to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, with talks stalled since 2014.

Speaking late Sunday at the opening of the council, which brought together Palestinians from multiple political parties, Abbas told delegates: “We said ‘no’ to Trump, ‘we will not accept your project.'”

“The deal of the century is the slap of the century and we will not accept it,” the 82-year-old leader added, referring to Trump’s pledge to reach the “ultimate deal.”

He instead called for an internationally mediated peace process.

Threat to cut aid

The Palestinians’ relations with the US leadership have deteriorated rapidly since Trump’s election.

He came to power promising to lead the most pro-Israel administration in history, but also to pursue a peace deal.

His envoys, including senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, had been shuttling between the two sides in search of common ground.

But Trump also infuriated the Palestinians by refusing to commit to the idea of an independent Palestinian state, and recently threatened to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid.

The Jerusalem announcement prompted the Palestinians to freeze ties with the administration, and Abbas is expected to shun Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region next week.

On Sunday night, Abbas slammed the US ambassadors to Israel and the United Nations, David Friedman and Nikki Haley, calling them a “disgrace.”

Both Trump appointees have been strong supporters of Israel, with Friedman having backed Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

An indignant Abbas also said that Trump had accused them of refusing to engage in peace negotiations.

“May God demolish your house. When did we refuse?” he said, using a common Arabic curse.

He also said the Oslo accords that led to the creation of his Palestinian Authority and envisioned a final resolution to the conflict were in effect finished.

“I am saying that Oslo, there is no Oslo. Israel ended Oslo,” Abbas said.

In response to Abbas’ comments, the European Union said its position on the conflict remains “based on the Oslo accords.”

“A negotiated two-state solution which fulfills the aspirations of both sides, Israel and Palestine, is the only realistic way of bringing the lasting peace and security that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels.

France, which organized an international conference in support of the two-state solution a year ago, issued a similar reaction, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow “understands” Abbas’ anger.

“For years they made concessions without receiving anything in return,” Lavrov said at an annual press conference in Moscow.

“We constantly hear that the US is about to unveil an important deal that would satisfy all sides. We have not seen this kind of document.”

AFP and JBN staff


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