Cairo (UNA-OIC) � The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday again blasted US President Donald Trump in a fiery and emotional speech, saying the U.S. leader's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was sinful and ill-fated.
Addressing the Al-Azhar International Conference in Support of Jerusalem in Cairo, he said that the United States has disqualified itself from continuing as a broker in the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a role America has had for decades, The Associated Press reported .
His comments came ahead of a weekend visit to the region by US 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.
Abbas said 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 said Jerusalem is our eternal capital, to which we belong, just as it belongs to us. He also renewed his call on Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem, adding that doing so 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."
Abbas also met Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi later on Wednesday. The Egyptian presidential spokesman said el-Sissi reassured Abbas of Egypt's continued efforts toward the creation of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. Egypt was the first Arab nation to make peace with Israel, in 1979.
Addressing the conference, Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, described Trump's Jerusalem decision as "unjust," and said it must be countered by a revival of awareness of the Palestinian struggle. "We want this year, 2018, to be the year of Jerusalem, a year in which we offer moral and material support to the people of Jerusalem," he said.
Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen; Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit; Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Christians, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanim; Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz Al Alsheikh; Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL) Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa; Arab Parliament Speaker Dr. Meshaal bin Fahm Al-Salami; and Secretary General of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit are among the dignitaries who attended the conference, which will conclude on Thursday.
Source: International Islamic News Agency