Leading Palestinian politicians have voiced concerns in recent days over the prospect of the United States being excluded from acting as mediator in peace talks with Israel. They do not believe that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' boycott on American officials— imposed in the wake of Washington's recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel's capital—is proving beneficial to the Palestinian cause.
In the current diplomatic climate, officials warned, Europe cannot replace the US as an intermediary because many European capitals are reluctant to assume America’s traditional role as primary peace broker between the two sides. European leaders are also wary of ignoring the Trump administration’s demand to not abide by the PA’s push to form a new, multilateral mechanism for negotiations.
Nabeel Amro, a former Palestinian Minister of Information, explained to The Media Line that “the Palestinians want Europeans to be more involved, but we can’t force them." While he believes that "it is right to reject the [prospective] American [peace] plan as it violates Palestinian rights, a boycott on the entire US administration is not helpful. Our relationship with the US should be about dialogue, not boycotts."
Whereas, Amro supports the PA's rejection of the White House's decision to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem, he stressed that “there is no need to boycott the whole country. Diplomacy requires activity and movement at all levels. The US is still supporting the PA in matters of security. Why do we accept security cooperation, but not the political collaboration?"
Amro concluded by noting that the US and Russia, for example, "have been going through political tensions for years, but still officials from both nations continue to meet and talk.”
Hanna Issa, a Palestinian political analyst, believes that the US alone holds the keys to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “America is a great country and most of world's governments have mutual interests with it," he told The Media Line. "Therefore, boycotting [Washington] will not benefit the Palestinians."
Issa highlighted that the PA does not even yet know the exact details of the White House’s plan, as it has not been published. Therefore, the PA's rejection of the proposal out-of-hand is, in his estimation, premature and counter-productive.
Nabil Shaath, a foreign affairs adviser to Abbas, disagrees with these assessments. "We are not seeking to replace the US with the European Union," he conveyed to The Media Line. "Abbas was clear in his speeches that we want multilateral negotiations involving European countries, Russia and China. At the same time, we refuse the US monopoly on talks and the contempt of the Trump administration for the Palestinian side."
In this respect, Shaath explained that the Palestinians will not tolerate what they consider the President Donald Trump's unwavering support for Israel despite its "many violations of international law, its occupation of Palestinian territories, settlement building and refusal to accept the Palestinian right of return."
Despite its positions, Shaath contended that Ramallah is “not boycotting the American administration, [rather] we are boycotting political dialogue with the US over the so-called 'deal of the century.' We still speak with the US Consulate in Jerusalem on daily basis and we still have our representative office in Washington.”
To this end, the PA repeatedly has reiterated its unwillingness to engage with Trump’s peace envoys, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman—who, together, Shaath described as a "Zionist, extremist team."
Over the weekend, the American trio penned an op-ed in The Washington Post
calling on Hamas to rejects its violent tactics and refusal to accept Israel's right to exist. The three envoys also called on the Palestinian people to find a way out of the “hopeless treadmill” of “destruction, violence and human misery.
“The world is moving forward, but bad choices are causing Palestinians to fall further and further behind,” the op-ed read.
Responding to the article, Abd al-Lateef Qanou, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told The Media Line that “the US administration is completely biased in Israel’s favor and doesn’t meet our peoples’ hopes and ambitions.
“It takes the side of the occupation and is a partner in the killing of Palestinians. We do not rely on any American efforts in finding a solution to the conflict.”www.themedialine.org