Despite claim to sever relations, Abu Mazen hasn't followed through

In the wake of Abbas’s rejection, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the PA to come up with a counteroffer.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas in cairo on Janurary 31 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas in cairo on Janurary 31 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The announcement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to the 22-member Arab League in Cairo on February 1 that he was severing all relations with the US and Israel over the US peace plan was wrong. In fact, Abbas hasn’t halted security coordination, as threatened, but his outright rejection of the plan triggered a wave of violence in Israel.
Similarly, the Arab League vote that to support the PA and unanimously oppose US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal was harmful, not helpful.
The plan, “Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People,” formally announced by Trump at a White House press conference on January 28, was endorsed both by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who stood alongside the president – and his primary contender in the March 2 elections, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz – who was briefed in a meeting a day earlier with Trump.
Replete with maps, the plan calls for the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state in about 70 percent of Judea and Samaria, excluding Jewish communities under Israeli control, granting Israel the right to formally declare sovereignty in these areas.
In the wake of Abbas’s rejection, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the PA to come up with a counteroffer.
“I know the Israelis would be prepared to sit down and negotiate on the basis of the vision that the president laid out,” he said.
In a gesture to the Palestinians, the Trump administration insisted that Jerusalem not carry out any unilateral annexation of territory – including that of the Jordan Valley – until after a new Israeli government is formed.
Instead of rejecting the Trump peace plan out of hand, the Palestinians should consider the benefits they could reap. The economic portion of the plan proposes a $50 billion investment fund for infrastructure and business projects in the Palestinian territories, which promise much-needed industry, jobs and prosperity. Some Arab states expressed their willingness to help finance the fund, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.
The ambassadors of Bahrain, Oman and the UAE were even present at Trump’s announcement of the plan, dubbed the “Deal of the Century.” Abbas chose instead to dub it “the slap of the century.”
To add insult to injury, Abbas brushed aside the plan’s requirement that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state, claiming that there were many Russian and Ethiopian immigrants who are not Jews – a comment that drew a rare rebuke from President Reuven Rivlin.
Over the years, the Palestinians have rejected every peace proposal presented by a string of Israeli governments. As then-foreign minister Abba Eban said after the Geneva Peace Conference in 1973, “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
The Trump peace offer is a historic opportunity for the sides to break an impasse that has gone on for way too long, and resume the path to peace. It is a solid basis for an enduring peace treaty, such as the ones Israel has with Egypt and Jordan, and the US administration should be thanked – and not rebuffed – by all parties involved.
There is wisdom in the words of the former US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, that “it takes two hands to clap.” The ball is now in the Palestinians’ court – and the international community should pressure Abbas, who is 84, to change his mind or step aside. On January 10, Abbas began serving the 15th year of his four-year term. To borrow the lyrics of the song penned by John Lennon more than 50 years ago, this is the time “to give peace a chance!”