President Abbas freezes diplomatic ties with President Trump


(Haaretz) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with U.S. President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, expected in Israel next week, officials from the Palestinian Authority said Wednesday, continuing a freeze in diplomatic ties between Ramallah and Washington following the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem.

Ahead of Kushner’s visit, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that any talks about the “the deal of the century” would not lead to any if the proposal skip over the issues of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees.

According to Abu Rudeineh, if the U.S. continues its policy of “changing the rules of the game” then the current diplomatic stagnation will become permanent. He said that any proposal or plan not based on the Arab Peace Initiative and previous international understandings will not have the cooperation of the Palestinian leadership.

Abu Rudeineh’s comments are linked to efforts by the PA from recent days, particularly with the European Union, to block any plan by the Trump administration that is inconsistent with the Palestinian positions. However, the PA is convinced that the U.S. administration has yet to formulate any proposal and doubts that one will be forthcoming soon.

“Any proposal that will come must challenge all the parties to act or respond,” a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz. He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not accept a plan that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, so he is comfortable with the current situation in which both sides awaiting a plan that will unlikely come to fruition. Europeans who spoke to senior Palestinian officials this week made it clear they would not cooperate with any move that contradicts the European position supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

According to this Palestinian official, during meetings Palestinian officials held with diplomats from Western countries with close ties to the administration, the Palestinians were led to understand that no plan has yet been formulated and there is no document summing up the American proposal.

The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East won’t be a “take it or leave it” proposal, but rather a basis for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, administration officials told Haaretz this week. They said the plan will be revealed soon, and that the White House hopes to share it not only with the leaders in the region, but also with the general public.

While there have been some reports asserting that the plan will be a blueprint for a final peace agreement that the two sides will have to either accept or reject, the officials who spoke with Haaretz said those reports, too, were inaccurate.

The officials criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to engage with the administration, a position he has held to ever since Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. “We assume there will be fair and substantial criticism of the plan, but we are astonished that Abbas won’t even see it,” one official said. “It would be a shame for the Palestinian people if the Palestinian leadership refuses to engage with this plan.”

Last month Haaretz reported that the only recent contact between high-ranking Palestinian and American officials was a meeting between Abbas’ security chief, Majid Faraj, and Mike Pompeo, who is now Secretary of State and headed the CIA at the time of the meeting. Palestinian officials explained that the meeting focused only on security and intelligence issues, which are not included in the Palestinian Authority’s political and diplomatic boycott of the administration.

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