Abbas expresses hope Netanyahu will be defeated in election

PA: We want to maintain ties with US

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. (photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed hope that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be defeated in the election and replaced by a leader willing to speak to him, in a meeting with Democratic Union candidates Essawi Frej and Noa Rothman in Ramallah.
Frej told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting on Tuesday that he found Abbas to be healthy, encouraging and seeking a peace process.
“He is eagerly waiting for the Israeli election,” Frej said. “He complained that Netanyahu has barely spoken to him over the past decade and that he hopes the next government begins a new peace process.”
Frej said that the purpose of the meeting was to restore the diplomatic issue to the national agenda ahead of the election, after it has been neglected by Blue and White and Labor.
“We came there to return hope,” he explained. “We in the Democratic Union believe the Palestinian issue needs to be a top priority.”
Netanyahu posted the Post’s article with Abbas’s comments, saying: “If anyone needed another reason to vote for Likud...”
Rothman said later that Abbas did not explicitly state he hopes Netanyahu loses the election. 
Rothman wrote on Twitter after the meeting that Abbas is “a leader concerned about growing extremism, and a lack of hope and dialogue among both the Israelis and Palestinians.”
A granddaughter of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Rothman blamed Netanyahu for the current lack of a peace process.
“As an Israeli, I am angry and disappointed that Netanyahu has done nothing over the past decade to advance the diplomatic process, and did not even do the minimum to initiate the dialogue necessary to bring about calm in the South,” Rothman wrote. “I have a heavy feeling that our leadership is not doing its part to protect and advance us, when there is so much to be done.”
Netanyahu’s son Yair tweeted back to Rothman: “Where is your uncle Yasser Arafat?” referring to the late Palestinian leader. Opponents of Netanyahu responded mockingly by posting pictures of Netanyahu and Arafat looking happy together.
Meanwhile, PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Tuesday that Palestinians want to maintain relations with the US and are eager to achieve peace with Israel. “We want relations between the US and Palestine to be independent from Israel,” he said.
Calling for mutual confidence-building measures between the Palestinians and Israel, Shtayyeh told US Republican members of Congress visiting Ramallah that Abbas is a staunch believer in the peace process. “We are not escaping from peace,” he added.
Shtayyeh criticized the Trump administration for its measures and policies regarding all “core” issues, including Jerusalem, borders, refugees and settlements, according to the PA’s official news agency Wafa. He also stressed the importance of halting settlement construction and “ending the occupation,” it added.
“The Trump administration took unilateral steps that killed the track of political negotiations, especially by moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” the PA premier was quoted as telling the Congressional delegation.
“The political process began in Madrid 28 years ago, and it’s inconceivable that until now, peace hasn’t been achieved. The peace process needs serious intentions, and Israel does not have such intentions.
The US is biased in favor of Israel, and the ideal solution for us is the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, as well as a just solution for the refugees.”
During the meeting, Shtayyeh accused Israel of “waging war on the Palestinian narrative” while “consolidating the Jewish narrative to control Jerusalem and Palestine.” The Palestinians, he said, are “proud” of their narrative.
“The conflict is not a religious one; rather, it’s a political conflict,” Shtayyeh remarked. He also complained that Israel’s policy of settlement construction “aims to destroy the two-state solution.”
The premier also accused the US and Israel of waging “financial war” on the Palestinians to force them to accept US President Donald Trump’s upcoming Middle East peace plan, also known as the “Deal of the Century.”
The Republican Congressional delegation, headed by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, also met with PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat.
“I reiterated that peace means an end to the Israeli occupation, and two states on the 1967 borders,” Erekat said after the meeting, which he described as a “candid and in-depth discussion.”