Palestinians boycott Washington conference on Gaza


The Palestinian Authority (PA) has boycotted a conference at the White House over the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, according to local media reports.

U.S. media reports said the conference Tuesday had been convened in Washington and attended by representatives of 19 nations, including Israel, Gulf states, and several European countries.

However, the Palestinian Authority refused to attend the meeting due to the Donald Trump administration's policy regarding Jerusalem.

The meeting led by Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump and his son-in-law, did not allow for "direct discussions" between Israel and the Arab states, according to the unnamed White House officials, cited by the American media reports.

On Dec. 6, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, triggering world outcry and protests across the Palestinian territories.

Following the decision, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had said his country would not accept a future role for the U.S. in the Middle East peace process.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the perennial Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Home to some two million people, the Gaza Strip has groaned beneath a crippling Israeli/Egyptian embargo first imposed in 2007 after Hamas wrested control of the coastal enclave from forces loyal to the PA.

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