TEL AVIV – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed hope that Donald Trump would support the quest for an independent Palestinian state, despite his declaration that Palestinians “know nothing about” the president-elect.
In an address that lasted well over three hours to the Fatah party on Wednesday – one day after Abbas’ reelection as its leader – he declared that 2017 will be the “year of the Palestinian state and end of the Israeli occupation.”
Trump’s adviser on Israel affairs, David Friedman, said towards the end of the presidential campaign that he didn’t think the Republican nominee “believes that the settlements are illegal.”
However, Abbas told the crowd to wait and see before judging Trump, reminding Fatah members that against all odds it was the right-wing Ariel Sharon who dismantled Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“Sharon left Gaza even though he considered it sacred land,” Abbas said.
“We look forward to building a positive relationship with the new U.S. president Donald Trump and hope he brings a solution to the Palestine issue,” he said.
“We know nothing about him,” Abbas added. “His people elected him. We didn’t, and if he wants to talk with us, we are pursuing that.”
In an inverse echo of Trump’s statement that Jerusalem is the Jewish nation’s undivided eternal capital, Abbas said that the next Fatah congress would be held in “East Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine.”
Abbas also said his party would bolster “popular peaceful resistance in all of its spheres” against Israel.
He also reaffirmed his position that he “will not recognize a Jewish state,” a key demand of the Netanyahu government.
Abbas also paid homage to late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, saying he would dedicate roads and public squares to him.