Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves in Ramallah, in the West Bank May 1, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
The Palestinians are not facing any pressure from the Arab countries to accept US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, Palestinian officials said on Monday.
The officials claimed reports suggesting a number of Arab countries – including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt – have accepted the plan were untrue and were part of a campaign of misinformation designed to drive a wedge between the Palestinians and these countries.
“The US administration is facing a crisis after failing to market its peace plan to the Palestinians and Arabs,” a member of the PLO Executive Committee told The Jerusalem Post
. “This administration is living under an illusion, if it thinks that it would be able to find Arab or Palestinian support for its suspicious plan.”
The PLO official said he was unaware of any pressure on the Palestinian leadership from any Arab country to accept the plan. ”We only hear these reports in the Israeli media and from some unreliable and suspicious Arab media organizations,” he added. “There is full coordination between the Palestinian leadership and our Arab brothers regarding the US administration’s policies.”
According to the Palestinian officials, US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt failed to win Arab support for Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan during their recent visit to the region.
“We have been informed that the Arab countries have advised the US administration to introduce changes to its peace plan if it wants the Palestinians to accept it,” said a senior Fatah official in Ramallah. “The Arabs know that no peace plan would be acceptable as long as the Palestinians are opposed to it.”
On Monday, the PA government accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “spreading false leaks and rumors,” to the effect that the Arab world supports the US plan, which Trump has described as the “deal of the century.”
Yusef Al-Mahmoud, spokesman for the Ramallah-based PA government, claimed that Netanyahu was continuing with his efforts to create the impression that the Arab world was supportive of the unseen peace plan.
“This is an attempt to cover up for his and the US administration’s failure to win support for the so-called deal of the century,” he said.
Mahmoud accused the US and Israel of working to “bypass” the Palestinian leadership. “This attempt is doomed to failure,” he said. “Previous attempts to bypass the leadership of the Palestinians have failed. The Palestinian people have one address: the PLO, represented by the Palestinian leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.”
Referring to Kushner’s interview
with the Palestinian daily Al-Quds earlier this week, in which the US envoy criticized Abbas, the spokesperson said the Palestinians “will not be fooled by attempts to distort the image” of their leaders.
PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki also denied that the Palestinian leadership was under pressure from Arab countries to accept the Trump peace plan. “The Arab position remains unchanged,” he told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station. “This position is based on accepting anything that is acceptable to the Palestinians and rejecting anything we reject.”
Malki claimed that Kushner’s “provocative” statements to Al-Quds “reflected the failure of the US envoys’ mission in the region. Malki praised the “brave and dignified” positions of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in supporting the Palestinian stance.
The PA Foreign Ministry launched a scathing attack on Kushner, dubbing him a “junior politician.” The ministry said Kushner’s statements and positions “stemmed from total and deliberate ignorance of the realities and history of the conflict.”
The PA ministry claimed that Kushner and the Trump administration were seeking to drive a wedge between the Palestinians and Arabs on the one hand and the Palestinians and their leaders on the other.
“In his statements, Kushner chose to conceal the US position, which is blindly biased in favor of the occupation and its expansionist settlement policies,” the ministry charged. “He also ignored the fact that it was President Trump who began the aggression on the Palestinian people and their rights, thus abandoning the American role as sponsor of the peace process and meaningful negotiations. We see that Kushner’s statements could not have been made by [anyone] other than someone who is a junior in politics.”
Osama Qawassmeh, a spokesman for Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank, called on Palestinians to unify their efforts to thwart “the big conspiracy called ‘the deal of the century.’” Trump’s peace plan, he claimed, was aimed at “completely liquidating the Palestinian cause.”
Omar Al-Ghoul, a prominent political analyst with the PA’s Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda newspaper, called on Arab countries to follow suit with the Palestinian leadership and boycott representatives of the Trump administration.
“If the Arabs are unable to do so, they should at least not allow US administration officials to talk about the Palestinian issue,” he said. “The Arab countries should relay a clear and powerful message to the US administration, namely that the Palestinian leadership is the sole party that is authorized to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.”