Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah said on Wednesday they were “surprised” to read statements attributed to US President Barack Obama to the effect that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not interested in peace.
Obama was quoted by various media outlets as telling American Orthodox representatives during a meeting at the White House on Tuesday that it was “possible” that Abbas may no longer be interested in peace and that the window for peace negotiations may already have closed.
Some of Abbas’s aides said they were expecting “clarifications” from the US Administration before commenting on the remarks.
“We were completely surprised to hear the statements that were attributed to President Obama,” one aide told The Jerusalem Post. “But we have to be careful and check whether Obama really said such things.”
A PLO official told the Post that he did not rule out the possibility that Obama had indeed said that Abbas is not interested in peace.
“This is all part of Obama’s election campaign,” the official claimed.
“Obama is obviously trying to win the Jewish vote in the upcoming election.”
Obama, he added, “knows very well that it is the Israeli government, and not the Palestinian leadership, that is foiling the peace process through its policy of construction in the settlements and refusal to accept the two-state solution.”
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said in response that the PA remained committed to the peace process and held Israel fully responsible for the current stalemate.
“We are committed to a just peace and are waiting for [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu to abide by the terms of reference of the peace process and the road map and halt settlement construction and accept the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders,” Abu Rudaineh told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
He also reiterated the PA’s refusal to the establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders. He said the only solution to the current crisis in the peace process was to force Israel to return to the negotiations in accordance with the road map and the Quartet statement that was published in December last year.