Abbas slam's Trump's Jerusalem move as 'sinful'
Mahmoud Abbas, whose presidency expired in 2009, 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.
Abbas said the Palestinians "will continue to peacefully pursue our demands until we win back our rights."
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.
"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 also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday. 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 "normalisation" with Israel.
"Visiting the prisoner does not mean normalisation with the jailer," 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."
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he was certain the US Embassy in Israel would be moved to Jerusalem sometime this year, much sooner than Trump administration officials have estimated.
Netanyahu told Israeli reporters travelling with him in India that his "solid assessment" is that the American Embassy "will be moved far faster than what we think ... in the course of the year."
American officials have said it's unlikely the embassy in Jerusalem would open before the end of Trump's term in office.
Since Trump's controversial announcement on December 6, outlining his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, angry protests have erupted worldwide.
Numerous violent episodes have also been sparked since then, in which sixteen Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed, and many more injured.