Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that the Palestinians were planning to make “fateful and dangerous decisions on important issues in the next two months.”He did not specify the nature of the decisions being considered. However, Abbas said that they would be presented to the PLO Central Council for approval.
Abbas was apparently referring to previous recommendations by the Central Council and the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s parliament, to sever ties with Israel.Abbas, who was speaking at a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah on Saturday, again voiced his strong rejection of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East, which is known as the “deal of the century” or the “ultimate deal.”“We have rejected – and will continue to reject – this deal,” Abbas said. “As far as we’re concerned, this deal is finished, and we no longer care about it.”Referring to Friday’s incident at the Temple Mount, which began when Palestinians threw stones at Israel Police forces, Abbas said that Israel’s “measures at al-Aqsa Mosque were no longer tolerable.”His remark apparently referred to visits by Jews to the Mount, which Abbas and the PA have condemned as “provocations” and “assaults” on al-Aqsa.Abbas also repeated his rejection of the new Nation- State Law that was recently approved by the Knesset, saying the Palestinians were considering their response to the law and other Israeli measures. “This is an issue that we can’t accept,” he said in reference to the law. At the end of Saturday’s meeting, the PLO Executive Committee issued a statement in which it claimed that the Nation-State Law was a “fulcrum” and an “integral part” of Trump’s upcoming peace plan. The committee called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for the “racist” law.The committee said Abbas briefed its members on his efforts to foil Trump’s “deal of the century” which, it charged, was “aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian national project, and destroying the two-state option.”The committee vowed to continue payments to Palestinian security prisoners and families of “martyrs.”The PLO meeting was called to discuss previous recommendations by Palestinian bodies to “redefine” or terminate relations with Israel, including security coordination in the West Bank.With regards to the ongoing dispute between Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and Hamas, Abbas said that he was planning to send a delegation to Cairo on Sunday for further talks with Egyptian officials on ways of ending the rift.“The delegation will carry the Palestinian position [to the Egyptians],” he said. “It’s not a response, because we’re not responding to anyone. We’re talking about our position, which we took on October 12, 2017. This is our fixed position.”Abbas was referring to the Egyptian-sponsored agreement that was signed in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas, which calls for Hamas to give the Ramallah-based PA government full civilian control of the Gaza Strip in return for easing the economic blockade on the coastal enclave. The deal also stipulates that presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections should be held within one year of its signing. Hamas and Fatah agreed to form an interim government before the vote. However, the two parties have since failed to implement the accord and continue to bicker over the interpretation of its details. Abbas has accused Hamas of failing to allow his government to assume its full responsibilities, including security control, in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, for its part, has accused the PA government of failing to lift the economic sanctions it had imposed on the Strip last year.The two sides also continue to argue over the future of Hamas’s weapons in the Gaza Strip. The PA insists that Hamas relinquish security control over the Strip and disarm, arguing that there should be only one official security apparatus there. Although Hamas has agreed to allow hundreds of PA policemen to redeploy there, it remains opposed to dismantling any of its security forces or militias.Earlier this month, the Egyptians reportedly presented the two rival parties with yet another proposal for ending the dispute. Hamas leaders said they have accepted the proposal, while Fatah’s position remains unclear.In response, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Haya on Saturday accused Fatah of failing to make a decision on the Egyptian proposal. “Fatah is trying to gain time on the issue of national reconciliation,” he charged. “Hamas does not know what Fatah’s motives are.”Abbas said that protests against Israel’s decision to evict the Bedouin shantytown of Khan al-Ahmar, located between Ma’aleh Adumim and Kfar Adumim, would and should continue “under the leadership of the PLO and all Palestinian factions.”The protests that the Palestinians have taken thus far against the decision to evict the residents of Khan al-Ahmar are good, but insufficient, he added. “We need to continue [with the protests] because Israel will continue with its measures to divide the West Bank and carry out the ‘canton plan’ which was planned for the Palestinians since the  Balfour Declaration.”Abbas and other Palestinians believe that Israel is planning to divide the West Bank into cantons (empowered provinces) to prevent the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.
Palestinian leader Abbas says Trump"s "crime" over Jerusalem precludes US peace role (Reuters)