Erekat: US talk of peace deals 'unacceptable' as long as Trump Jerusalem decision stands

“There is no value to a Palestinian state with out Jerusalem as its capital,” says chief Palestinian negotiator.

January 9, 2018 11:51
2 minute read.
Saeb Erekat

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Continued American “talk” of deals to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict or of invitations to resume negotiations is “unacceptable” as long as US President Donald Trump’s changes to American policy on Jerusalem are not reversed, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told official Palestinian Authority radio on Tuesday.

Erekat also said that the American president, through his speech in December, removed Jerusalem from the negotiating table, adding that, “there is no value to a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital.”

In a speech at the White House in early December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, breaking with decades of American policy and infuriating the Palestinian leadership.
Palestinian leader Abbas says Trump's 'crime' over Jerusalem precludes US peace role (Reuters)

Trump said Israel and the Palestinians should decide the final borders of the city, emphasizing that the US was not taking a position on the city’s final status. However, in a tweet last week, the American president said: “We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table,” seemingly contradicting his prior remark.

Several days following Trump’s speech, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians will no longer accept the US as an interlocutor in the peace process between themselves and Israel.

Nonetheless, White House officials have continued to say they intend to put forward a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his interview with PA radio, Erekat added that the American administration wants to impose dictates on the Palestinian leadership by way of “abolishing UNRWA, cutting aid, starving refugees and closing schools.”

Last Tuesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that Trump does not want to turn over American aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table.

On the same day, Trump posted a tweet in which he suggested that he would cut aid to the Palestinians if they do not want to work with his peace efforts.

In 2016, the US gave more than $350 million to UNRWA to provide education, health, social welfare and other services to Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and other places in the Middle East.

Last week, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness said his organization was not informed of any changes in US contributions to the UN agency.

On Monday, in an interview with PA radio, Nabil Sha’ath, Abbas’s adviser for international affairs, called on Arab states to make up for any American cuts in aid to UNRWA.

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