Palestinian negotiator says Trump’s peace deal seeks to normalize Israeli oppression

By Middle East Affairs

President Trump’s “deal of the century” referencing his peace plan for Israel and Palestine is not really a deal and is already being put to action by the U.S. and its allies said a chief Palestinian negotiator.

Saeb Erekat, an experienced negotiator said that Trump’s administration has announced the release of the peace plan in the upcoming days, but he has yet to even see a draft of the so-called plan.

Erekat said that “Americans had become nothing else than spokespeople for the Israeli occupation, their intention was to normalise Israeli apartheid.”

In March it was reported that Saudi officials had personally delivered a copy of the deal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but the president refused to open the document.

Erekat said, “If there’s any plan, this is being implemented on the ground: with moving the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem, withdrawing support for the two-state solution, cutting funds to UNRWA and, eventually, trying to normalise the Israeli apartheid in Palestine.”

Trump’s envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are currently on a tour of the Middle East meeting with leaders to try to drum up support for their administration’s peace plan.

Haaretz reported that Trump’s administration is hoping to persuade Arab governments to invest millions into developing the Gaza strip.

Earlier this week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah II met in a rare meeting that has since spurred rumors about the backdoor deal for Trump’s peace plan.

In the last month, Jordan has experienced thousands of protestors hitting to the streets to protest IMF mandated price hikes, which Jordanians say hit the poorest the hardest. Jordan’s government officials have said that its Gulf neighbors had stopped short of helping the country in order to force their hand regarding their ownership of holy sites in Jerusalem.

Jared Kushner at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem last month (AFP)

Following the meeting with Jordan’s king, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s released a statement that said Israel’s is committed to upholding its rights and ownership of holy sites in Jerusalem.

Erekat said that he was not worried that Jordan would not comply with pressures to support the deal in order to keep its custodianship of holy sites in Jerusalem because relations between Palestine and Jordan are very strong.

He said, “King Abdullah has been clear in his statements calling for a free Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem. We are coordinating everything with the Jordanian side.”

The veteran negotiator has been dealing with Palestinian-Israeli negotiations since 1991, reportedly starting his career when Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat sent him a note at the Madrid peace conference asking him to join the Palestinian delegation as deputy head of delegations. It is said that Erekat first refused then took the position.

In 1995 Erekat took the position of Palestinian negotiator and was elected to Palestinian parliament the following year. Over the years, he has given up the position only to take it back up today.

The U.S. based publication the New Yorker magazine reported that since Trump took office, Erekat has had several intense exchanges with Kushner regarding U.S. policy in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In a heated exchanged, Kushner replied to Erekat “We told them they shouldn’t meet with you now”, in reference to his worries that Palestinians were unable to meet with Israeli leaders.

Erekat response to Kushner was that “It’s much better for us to meet with the Israelis. You’re not going to make peace for us.”

Kushner later replied, “You think all of a sudden you’re going to meet at your house, and have tea, and you’ll be able to agree on something you haven’t been able to agree on for 25 years?”. He also said, “That’s all in the past… Show me what you think is an outcome that you can live with.”

In the New Yorker Erekat compared the exchanges to dealing with stockbrokers: “If I don’t take 30 cents on the dollar now, I’ll get 15 cents next year.”

In an interview with the Middle East Eye, Erekat said that there is no table to walk away from because it’s not like Palestine was in open negotiations and decided to suddenly walk away.

Abu Dis, 4km east of Jerusalem, was cut off from the city by Israel’s wall more than a decade ago (AFP)

He said, “If anyone walked away, it was the Trump emissaries whose plan has nothing to do with a just and lasting peace and a lot to do with normalising the Israeli apartheid regime.”

Erekat went on to say that Palestine’s position is upheld on international law and UN resolutions, he went on to say that “We are not going to accept anything short of that, and nobody could impose anything upon us.”

After Trump formally announced his plans to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Palestinian President Abbas said that they had been offered Abu Dis, a small East Jerusalem suburb, for the future capital of Palestine.

It is unclear who had proposed Abu Dis, as the future capital, some have suggested it was the Saudi’s doing. The suburb is located four kilometers east of the holy city of Jerusalem and is entirely cut off from the city by a separation wall that Israel built ten years ago.

Erekat who originates from Abu Dis confirmed that it wasn’t Saudi who proposed the idea for a future state capital, regardless it was an empty offer and would never be accepted by Palestinians.

He said, that “The boundaries of the city of Jerusalem, our eternal capital, are very well-known. There will be no Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital.”

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