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UN, Arab League reiterate support for Palestinian state

Joint statement by UN and Arab League heads comes after Trump drops US commitment to two-state solution to conflict.

The UN and the Arab League have issued a joint statement in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state, after US President Donald Trump dropped his country's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The statement on Thursday came a day after Trump and the visiting Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to endorse the two-state solution as the preferred outcome of peace talks, abandoning what has been the cornerstone of US-led peace efforts for two decades.

After a meeting in Cairo, Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, and Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the Arab League's secretary-general,  said they agreed that the two-state solution is "the only way to achieve comprehensive and just settlement to the Palestinian cause".

The statement put them at odds with Trump, who said at a White House meeting with Netanyahu that Middle East peace does not necessarily have to include the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian leaders and the international community have long favoured the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as the preferred way to peace in the region.

Separately, Aboul-Gheit issued a warning on Thursday against the potential moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after Trump said his administration was considering it seriously.

He said the move would have explosive consequences in the Middle East, Egypt's state news MENA reported, after Trump said he would "love" to see the US embassy relocated to Jerusalem.

"I'd love to see that happen, we're looking at that very, very strongly, we're looking at that with great care, and we'll see what happens," Trump said.

Relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, which would violate international law, would be seen as a provocative move by critics as the city is claimed by both the Israelis and Palestinians as their capital.

Hamas, the Palestinian group which governs the Gaza Strip, has reacted to Trump's latest statements, saying the US has a pro-Israel bias and never made enough effort to improve Palestinian rights.

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesperson, said on his Facebook page: "US administrations never worked hard enough and seriously to give the Palestinian people its rights".

He said the US administration provided a cover for Israeli aggression carried out against the Palestinian people, including the theft of land.

"Washington's weak retraction of its original stance is reflective of the US-administration's bias towards the Israeli occupation, especially with the arrival of new US President Donald Trump," Qassem said.

He also called on the Palestinian Authority to abandon what he called "the illusion of a solution through negotiations, and the idea that the US should act as a mediator in negotiations".

Saeb Erekat, the PLO's secretary-general, said: "Those who believe that they can undermine the two-state solution and replace it with what I call 'one state, two systems', maintaining the status quo now, apartheid, I don't think that in the 21st century they will get away with it."

Osama Hamdan, Hamas' foreign-policy chief, said the group will not be not be affected by the new US policy and will continue with all forms of resistance to Israeli occupation until statehood is achieved.

Asked if resistance means just engaging military confrontations with Israel, Hamdan said: "That’s only a part of it, if we were attacked first.

"Resistance for us could be peaceful one such as boycotting Israeli consumer products, challenging Israel legally and defending ourselves military should Israel attacks us."


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