Palestinian leader calls on UN to replace US as Mideast mediator

Palestinian leader calls on UN to replace US as Mideast mediator
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called for the United Nations to replace the United States as the mediator of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Speaking at a summit in Turkey, Abbas said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel amounted to a "slap for the ages" and deemed Washington unqualified to broker a potential peace deal.

"We were shocked by the U.S. administration," Abbas said, according to The Associated Press. "While we engaged with them in the peace process for the sake of a deal for the ages, [Trump] delivered a slap for the ages."

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"We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process," Abbas added.

Muslim and Arab leaders also declared on Wednesday that the Washington was no longer fit to mediate peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians and condemned Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump has vowed to broker a historic peace agreement in the region, which he has called the "ultimate deal." The backlash from leaders in the region, and particularly Abbas, is likely to make the prospect of such a deal even more difficult.

For nearly seven decades, the U.S. and virtually the entire international community declined to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, choosing instead to avoid weighing in on the issue of the city's status as a way of preserving future peace negotiations.

The city is revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews, and Palestinians have long aspired to claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. 

In making his announcement about Jerusalem last week, however, Trump cast his decision as a mere recognition of reality, pointing to the fact that the city is the seat of Israel's government. He also avoided declaring Jerusalem the "undivided" capital of Israel. 

But the move drew swift backlash from world leaders, particularly in Arab and Muslim-majority countries, who said that policy shift would undermine stability in the region and hurt U.S. credibility as a mediator.