CAIRO (AP) — The Palestinian president on Wednesday again blasted Donald Trump in a fiery and emotional speech, saying the U.S. leader’s decision to recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “sinful” and “ill-fated.”
Mahmoud Abbas, who has openly cursed Trump over his policies, told a conference in Egypt that the United States has disqualified itself from continuing as a broker in the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a role America has had for decades.
His comments at a conference on Jerusalem held in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, came ahead of a weekend visit to the region by Vice President Mike Pence, the most senior American official to visit the Middle East since Trump’s Jerusalem decision in December. Pence will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel but won’t meet with Palestinians.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
“Jerusalem will be a gate for peace only if it is Palestine’s capital, and it will be a gate of war, fear and the absence of security and stability, God forbid, if it is not,” Abbas said. “It’s the gate for peace and war and President Trump must choose between the two.”
Abbas was to meet later Wednesday with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Egypt is the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
Jerusalem “is our eternal capital, to which we belong, just as it belongs to us,” said Abbas. He also renewed his call on Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem, assuring would-be visitors that such visits would not amount to “normalization” with Israel.
“Visiting the prisoner does not mean normalization with the jailor,” he said.
“Don’t abandon us,” he pleaded, “Visits by Muslims, Arabs and Christians lend support to the city, amount to the protection of its holy sites and give support to its (Arab) residents.”
The Cairo conference was organized by Al-Azhar, the primary seat of learning for the world’s Sunni Muslims.