Palestine won’t talk with US until Jerusalem move is reversed

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The Palestinians’ top negotiator said on Tuesday there could be no discussions with United States President Donald Trump’s administration until his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is reversed.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinians’ longtime chief negotiator, told AFP in an interview the decision was “part of a new American era of moving from negotiation to dictation”.

Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital set off protests among Palestinians, who consider the city to be their capital as well.

Erekat’s comments come with rhetoric further sharpening between Trump’s White House and the Palestinians, who have said the United States can no longer mediate in the Middle East conflict and boycotted a recent visit by US Vice President Mike Pence.

Last week, Trump accused the Palestinians of disrespecting the United States and threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid until they returned to the negotiating table.

Provoking Palestinian outrage, he reaffirmed his Jerusalem decision and said the disputed city had been taken “off the table”, despite having previously said his recognition did not preclude later negotiations on its borders.

Trump made the comments in Davos, Switzerland, while seated next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to Erekat, the Palestinians faced with what they see as a blatantly biased US administration are aiming to convene an international conference in an effort to show global support for a two-state solution to the conflict.

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