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World News

Palestinian leader Abbas in Cairo, Istanbul to rally region over Jerusalem

CAIRO (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday intensified efforts to rally Middle Eastern countries against U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, setting up talks with Arab leaders beginning in Cairo.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (L) meets with Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, Egypt December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Abbas met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, which has been a key broker in past peace talks with Israel and between fighting Palestinian factions.

Abbas and Sisi agreed to continue high-level coordination and to use the widespread rejection of the U.S. move to maintain the rights of the Palestinians, a statement from the Egyptian presidency said.

Palestinian Presidency Spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said there would be an Arab move to preserve the rights of the Palestinian people soon.

Abbas will later head to Istanbul to give a speech at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Arab states condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision last week, and vowed to press international bodies to take action against it. The Arab Parliament held an emergency meeting on the issue in Cairo on Monday, state news agency MENA reported.

Sisi, after a separate meeting with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the U.S. moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem would have “dangerous effects on peace and security in the region”.

Abbas met the head of the Arab League in Cairo on Monday, local media reported. Arab foreign ministers held an hours-long emergency meeting at the weekend and vowed to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution rejecting the U.S. move, but gave few details on other measures they would take.

The Palestinians hope for concrete action.

“Daring Palestinian and Arab decisions are required in the coming stage, which is very important,” Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah told Palestinian official news agency WAFA.

World powers have said the U.S. move will impede peace efforts in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict as anger spreads across the region.

The Trump administration says it is still committed to the peace process.

Abbas will not meet Mike Pence during the U.S. Vice President’s visit to the region later this month, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Saturday.

Egypt’s top Muslim and Christian religious leaders also said they would not meet Pence.

Egypt has also brokered reconciliation deals between Abbas’s Fatah party and Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas, which called for a new uprising against Israel last week.

The planned handover of control of Gaza to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority under the latest deal hit another delay on Sunday, with a Fatah official blaming “obstacles” without elaborating.

Israel launched fresh air strikes in Gaza on Saturday in response to rocket fire from the enclave, where it fought a war in 2014 which killed more than 2,000 people, most of them civilians.

Reporting by John Davison in Cairo and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Additional reporting by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Graff

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