Palestinians reject any future US role in peace process

Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital hardens Recep Tayyip Erdogan stance

An Israeli undercover policeman arrests a Palestinian protester in the West Bank town of Ramallah during a protest against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Photograph: Shadi Hatem

An Israeli undercover policeman arrests a Palestinian protester in the West Bank town of Ramallah during a protest against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Photograph: Shadi Hatem

 

President Mahmoud Abbas has taken the step Palestinians have advocated since their state failed to emerge in 2000 by accusing Washington of “bias in favour of Israel” and dismissing any future role for the US in the peace process.

In response to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Abbas, for the first time, has translated Palestinian anger into action by cutting off contacts with the US and boycotting vice-president Mike Pence during next week’s visit to the region. It remains to be seen if the break will be definitive.

There can be no peace process without the Palestinians, who demand East Jerusalem as the capital of their oft-promised but never-delivered state.

Wednesday’s emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) was an excellent opportunity for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan – the rotating chair – to display his Jerusalem credentials.

International community

He has been the most vehement Muslim critic of Trump’s decision on Jerusalem and has, in response, urged the international community to recognise East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of a Palestinian state. As this wording was adopted in the summit’s communique, Ergodan clearly won against the Saudi-led camp that does not want confrontation with Trump .

For Erdogan, Trump’s proclamation on Jerusalem is a blessing. Castigated for his harsh crackdown on internal dissent, Erdogan can now exploit widespread anti-US and anti-Israel feeling in Turkey, outbid Arab leaders he regards as “weak” on the Jerusalem issue, and assert leadership over the divided and drifting Arab and Muslim worlds, his longstanding objective.

His prospects for leadership are, however, poor as the Arabs are not fond of the Turks, whose rule they escaped a century ago and whose governments have often aligned with the US and Israel against the Arab world.

Disarray among Muslim rulers was reflected by attendance at a summit on such an emotional issue by only 22 heads of state and government; 25 states were represented by foreign ministers. Shia-Sunni rivalry was exhibited by the presence of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and the absence of Saudi King Salman, who expressed “deep regret over the US decision on Jerusalem” and said Palestinians have the right to East Jerusalem as their capital.

Deputies sent

He sent his minister for Islamic affairs; his partners, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, sent foreign ministers.

However, the Gulf Co-operation Council, once dominated by Riyadh, was split: Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, Kuwaiti emir Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and a high-ranking Omani figure deputised by the ailing ruler attended. Lebanon was represented by Christian president Michel Aoun, who called for punitive measures against any state that follows the US example on Jerusalem. Declaring independence from Saudi Arabia, Pakistani prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took part.

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was welcomed in Istanbul despite an international arrest warrant against him on charges of war crimes. Erdogan even invited Venezuela’s anti-US leader Nicolas Maduro, who had joined the majority of world leaders in rejecting Trump’s decision on Jerusalem.

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