Palestine calls for Middle East peace conference

ANI | Updated: Feb 21, 2018 08:19 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb 21 (ANI): Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday called for a Middle East peace conference to be held by mid-2018 and ruled out the United States as a broker of peace with Israel.

"We are ready to begin negotiations immediately in order to achieve the freedom and independence of our people. We are ready to undertake the longest journey. The mechanism would be borne out of an international conference to be held by mid-2018," Abbas said.

Urging nations to recognise Palestine as an independent state as per the two-state solution, Abbas criticised Israel was "acting as a state above the law", citing its illegal settlements and continued military presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Anadolu news agency reported.

"It has transformed the occupation from a temporary situation as per international law into a situation of permanent settlement, colonization. It colonized all the areas that it wanted, including Jerusalem, that your august council considers an occupied territory. How can this happen? Israel has shut the door on the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders," he added.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations's special coordinator for Middle East peace, warned that the "the enemies of peace were growing more confident by the day".

Last month, US President Donald Trump said that the US had taken Jerusalem off the negotiating table. He warned Palestine that if it wanted to receive aid from the US, then it should return to peace talks with the US.

On December 6 last year, relations between Palestine and the US turned sour, when Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, prompting international criticism and sparking protests across the world.

The State of Palestine seeks all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza territories for an independent state.

Jerusalem is considered a sacred place, which is home to Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. However, it is also a disputed territory, contested by both Israel and Palestine, which sees it as a capital of its future state. (ANI)