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Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 10:26
Palestinians ask Arabs to boycott Mideast summit in Poland
By Associated Press
Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 10:26 By Associated Press

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and his Austrian counterpart (not in frame) attend a joint press conference following their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Feb 5, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinians on Monday called on Arab nations to boycott or downgrade their representation at a Mideast summit co-hosted by the United States, as President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia discuss "the dangers facing the Palestinian cause."

The Palestinians cut off all contacts with the Trump administration after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017

The conference in Poland is widely seen as a US-led effort to isolate Iran, which was not invited. The Palestinians cut off all contacts with the Trump administration after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017, saying it was unfairly biased toward Israel.

Abbas will meet King Salman to discuss "the current political situation and the dangers facing the Palestinian cause, especially Jerusalem," the Palestinian leader's office said.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted the Palestinian ambassador in Saudi Arabia as saying "the visit is a continuation of the communication between the two leaderships under difficult international circumstances, as well as attempts to terminate the Palestinian cause."

READ MORE: Palestinians ask Arabs to boycott Mideast summit in Poland

A senior Palestinian official said the visit had come at the invitation of the Saudi king, and talks were expected to focus on a peace plan the US says it is working on. The Palestinians have pre-emptive rejected the plan, saying President Donald Trump's Mideast team is hopelessly biased.

The US has said the Warsaw conference is aimed at promoting peace and security in the Middle East. But it appears to be focused on building a united front against Iran, a country that both Israel and the Saudis see as a grave threat.

US officials say that Trump's chief Mideast adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will also discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is not clear if this will include details of his peace plan.

ALSO READ: Palestinians announce plans to again seek full UN membership

Earlier Monday, the Palestinian foreign minister asked Arab countries to boycott or downgrade their representation at the Poland conference, which begins Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are sending foreign ministers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attending.

Malki told the Voice of Palestine that the Palestinians "view the Warsaw conference as a plot against the Palestinian cause."

Most Arab nations have refrained from establishing relations with Israel without significant progress toward peace with the Palestinians. But many Gulf states share Israel's concerns about Iran's growing influence.

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