U.S. Jewish Leaders Say Abbas Speech Sounds ‘Death Knell’ For Peace Process

In this Sept. 19, 2014 file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris. The Hamas militant group on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2017, said it has accepted key conditions demanded by its rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, including nationwide elections …
AP/Michel Euler

TEL AVIV — American Jewish leaders said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sounded the “death knell” of peace efforts with Israel when he completely denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem in comments he made following the American announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The statement by the Jewish leaders, issued by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Abbas’s speech at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was “a rejection of peace with Israel.”

“President Abbas has consistently openly promoted the denial of any Jewish connection to Jerusalem to his own people, in the UN and its agencies and bodies, and in international legal fora,” the statement by Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said. “His threat to go to the United Nations to undo the U.S. measure – which it cannot do – and to gain recognition of the State of Palestine is the death knell for negotiations. His speech today at the OIC summit in Istanbul is also the latest attack on foundational beliefs of the Jewish faith and historical truth.”

At the OIC meeting held on Wednesday, Abbas said the Palestinians would never accept any role the U.S. would play in the so-called peace process due to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Abbas also threatened to pull out of existing agreements with the Jewish state and suggested that the UN should take over as mediator from the US.

Abbas said there can be “no peace or stability” in the Middle East until Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of a Palestinian state. He did not differentiate between the eastern and western parts of the city. The OIC session included leaders and representatives from more than 50 member states.  Abbas also failed to mention that the PA rejected numerous previous statehood offers.

Abbas, the U.S. Jewish leaders said, “deliberately distorted” Trump’s recognition by ignoring the fact that the U.S. president’s statement “did not define boundaries or borders, and that the U.S. would support whatever the parties agree to” and instead “cast the move as an attack on Islam.”

The statement also said that Abbas’s refusal to negotiate “in good faith” in recent years was the real reason a peace agreement has not yet been achieved.

“It is up to responsible leaders in the region and around the world to prevent President Abbas from proceeding toward a dangerous dead end,” the statement read.


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