Abbas Calls U.S. Mideast Policy Assault on International Law

(Bloomberg) -- Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called for countries to reject President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and appealed for wider recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, also demanded, in an address to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, that Trump reverse recent cuts in aid to Palestinian refugees and that Israel uphold commitments it made during 25 years of peace efforts.

The Trump administration “has reneged on all previous U.S. agreements, and has undermined the two-state solution,” Abbas said. Regarding Israel, he said, either it abides by the accords or “or else we will renege on them.”

The Palestinian leader, 83, also said the U.S. can no longer act as the sole mediator in peace talks. Instead, he said, the “Quartet” -- which includes the UN, Russia and the European Union as well as the U.S. -- should take the lead.

His comments come a day after Trump, during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for the first time said he supports the establishment of a Palestinian state. Later in the day he walked back the comment, though, saying that whatever the two sides agree on -- one state, two states -- would be fine with him.

Supporters of Hamas demonstrated in the Gaza Strip after Abbas’s speech, blasting what they saw as an implied threat to impose more sanctions on the coastal enclave if a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Abbas’s West Bank-based Palestinian Authority falls through. Palestinian Authority decisions to cut off salary payments in Gaza and stop paying Gaza’s electricity bills have intensified the economic crisis in the strip.

Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly shortly after Abbas, with most of his address focusing on Iran. He rejected as “preposterous” Abbas’s criticism of Israel’s new Nation-State Law, which codifies the country’s Jewish character, and dismissed exceptionally heated criticism of Israeli policies as “the same old antisemitism.”

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