Abbas: The US took over the peace process – and did nothing

In a recent speech in Arabic, the president of the Palestinian Authority explained why he declined to speak with the US president.

PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas attends a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of the death of his predecessor Yasser Arafat, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas attends a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of the death of his predecessor Yasser Arafat, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lashed out at US President Donald Trump in a speech he gave last Saturday in Cairo during a session of the Arab League. 
 
Abbas began his speech by mentioning that his first impression of Trump in 2017 when the two met at the UN had been a positive one.
“He said [to me]: ‘East Jerusalem is yours,” Abbas told the audience, “I said: ‘What about the borders of 1967’? He said: ‘You got it.’ I asked: ‘What about land exchange deals’ [with Israel]? He said: ‘I agree, not only do I agree, I want to force him [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] into giving you better lands.” 
 
“I felt we could solve the Palestinian issue in five minutes,” Abbas said, “I told him: ‘Mr. President…I believe we [Palestinians] do not need to use weapons. We tried the way of the gun in 1948, 1956, 1967. And 1973 and did not get anywhere…this is why I will seek to make the state of Palestine a demilitarized country,” the Palestinian leader said. 
 
“He asked me: ‘Why?’ I answered: ‘Instead of buying a tank, it is better I build a school. Rather than buying a jet, it is better I built a hospital,” Abbas continued, “he [Trump] told me: ‘This is great, why did people tell me you’re a terrorist? You are a man of peace, I want to make a peace deal with you, we will keep talking next time we meet.” 
 
Abbas left, he said to his listeners in Cairo, with a feeling “we might have peace with this man.” 
 
Two months later, Trump ordered the closure of the PLO offices in Washington and began a series of steps, among them moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and halting funding to UNWRA. 
 
“When he declared [his decision] about Jerusalem, [Trump] called me and said: ‘I want to [let Israel] annex Jerusalem, but there are some very important things for you as well; I will give you so and so’ and he hung up,” Abbas said. 
 
“This is all I ever heard from him,” he said, adding that “then he stepped out [to the press] and said: ‘I spoke with Abbas.’ This is why I refused to accept his "Deal of the Century" [to read] or phone calls or messages…who would believe me and think that [the American] superpower is lying, the greatest power on Earth? Everyone will believe him and say: ‘Brother, you have spoken with him?'” Abbas explained. 
 
Abbas compared the current peace plan to the Oslo Peace accords by saying: “I am telling this for history’s sake: No one knew about these talks [with Israel], not even America… and they worked, they produced what is known as the Oslo Accords.”
Abbas went on to claim that this achievement, without American oversight, angered former US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and that the Palestinians were advised by the late Egyptian diplomat Osama El-Baz to tell the world the deal was American-backed, “to keep America’s image in the world.”
“We went there [to Washington] and they adopted it,” Abbas told the audience, “since that date until today, no other agreement was reached: They took over [the peace] process and did nothing with it.”
“If America knew about Oslo she would have torn it down,” he said. 
 
Abbas did not forget to mention former prime minister Ehud Olmert, with whom he claimed, “70% of all that is needed for a permanent solution was achieved. One day I was on my way to his house [to talk] and I was told: ‘Go back to your home, the man [Olmert] is going to jail,’" he said. "This is all that happened with us and the Israelis since Oslo.” 
 
Olmert went to prison for corruption and breach of trust in 2016 and was released in 2017. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly said to his close friends that, “I will not make the mistake Olmert made” – by leaving office when indicted to clear his name in court.