PA Spokesman: Israelis have to live with us, not the Sudanese

Palestinian officials lay blame for lack of peace on Trump and Netanyahu.

Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rudeineh (photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS)
Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rudeineh
(photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority officials expressed skepticism about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s work toward normalization in briefings with Israeli reporters in Ramallah on Sunday, warning it is no replacement for making peace with the Palestinians.
Several PA officials also threatened to end security cooperation with Israel as part of their rejection of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
Netanyahu going to Uganda won’t bring peace,” Palestinian Authority Information Minister Nabil Abu Rudeineh said. “You have to live with the Palestinians, not the Sudanese. He should come to Ramallah.”
The comment referred to Netanyahu’s recent trip to Uganda, where he held a groundbreaking first meeting with Sudan’s leader. The two agreed to work toward official diplomatic ties between the countries.
Similarly, Mahmoud al-Habash, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser on religious affairs and the PA’s supreme Sharia judge said: “Netanyahu lies and misleads you. All claims of normalization with Arab countries is a lie.
“We are not angry at Arab states. Their stance was made clear in the Arab League,” where they all voted to oppose US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, Habash said. “It is not just the leaders, but all the Arab and Muslim nations are with the Palestinians.”
Habash added: “Talk of ties with Arab countries is part of his election propaganda and not reality. The reality is that negotiations are needed.”
Some of the officials warned that Palestinians could turn to violence as a result of the Trump plan.
Habash, a former Hamas official who served time in an Israeli prison, said: “The moment we decide security cooperation doesn’t serve Palestinian interests, we will change the coordination.”
Former PA prisoner affairs minister Ashraf Al-Ajrami said Trump’s policies undermine the idea of negotiations being important to maintaining peace and that the US president seeks to only use power and bullying.
“That is pushing the Palestinians somewhere else. The weak will try to get power to bring to the table,” he said, apparently referring to violence. “The plan created disappointment at a level I have never seen in my life.”
The former minister added: “An intifada is not something the leadership decides; it’s a matter of people taking to the streets. There is disappointment and frustration in the streets and that is a significant factor.”
Vice chairman of the PLO Committee for interaction with Israelis Elias Zananiri expressed hope that Israel and the Palestinians would not go back to the “trauma” of the Second Intifada.
“We are doing the maximum to prevent it. But will that maximum continue forever? I doubt it,” he said.
PALESTINIAN OFFICIALS repeatedly said they view Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace.
“The two-state principle is in danger because of Netanyahu,” Habash said. “If there isn’t two states, then the solution will be one state.”
The officials claimed they do not have a preference between Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and do not want to intervene in Israel’s election, but made their distaste for Netanyahu clear.
“All we need is a partner who is ready for peace. We don’t mind if it’s Netanyahu or Gantz, we need a man like [prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin who is ready to sit at the table,” Abu Rudeineh said.
Zananiri said: “Just like we don’t let anyone else tell us who is in charge of us, we won’t decide for the Israelis who is in charge of them. Pick whoever you want, as long as he comes open-minded to reach an agreement.”
Yet Zananiri scoffed at Netanyahu saying in 2009 that he would recognize a Palestinian state: “Then, in the next election, he said he didn’t mean it. That’s Bibi. A man like that can’t be a partner” for peace.
Ajrami said they don’t want to take a side in the election because they “don’t want to be used as a tool by Netanyahu.”
“With Netanyahu there’s no chance of a peace agreement. With Gantz, we don’t know,” he added.
The officials who briefed the Israeli Diplomatic Reporters’ Association praised former prime minister Ehud Olmert for his willingness to make concessions toward the Palestinians.
Olmert and Abbas met in New York last week, after the latter spoke against the Trump plan in the UN Security Council, and made a joint statement to the press condemning the US plan.
“Since Rabin, not one prime minister had a real direction toward peace with the Palestinians except for Olmert,” Zananiri said. “Olmert was the exception... [Abbas and Olmert] spent 124 hours together.”
According to Zananiri, the two would have made peace if only Olmert had not been investigated, and eventually convicted, on corruption charges.
Abu Rudeineh posited that Abbas is “still committed to peace, in spite of all the problems we are facing,” but “the American administration is pushing the Israelis and Palestinians to continuous troubles forever.”
Abbas is “capable of signing an agreement as he did in 1993 at the White House. This is a great opportunity that should not be missed, but we are facing an Israeli government that is refusing to do anything to build real peace,” he said.
Zananiri argued that any leader that will come after Abbas, who is 84 years old, will be more extreme than he is, because Abbas “has his back against the wall.”
Abu Rudeineh and Habash both called for peace to be based on pre-1967 lines and east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, with the latter saying that retreat to that point should not even be considered a concession by Israelis.
“If the Israeli government will negotiate on this basis, I’m sure we can sign an agreement in two weeks,” Abu Rudeineh said. “If Israelis are ready for peace that will last forever – I’m not talking about three or five years – then they should sit at the table with these references.”
The Trump plan, which is not based on pre-1967 lines, “is in the past,” Zananiri argued, though the US president presented it less than three weeks ago. “The whole mountain didn’t even turn into a molehill.”
Ajrami argued that the demilitarized, non-contiguous state offered by the Trump plan does not give the Palestinians sovereignty: “It’s not a two-state solution.”