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Senior Palestinian Delegation Heading To U.S. To Meet Obama, Trump Officials

TEL AVIV – A senior delegation from the Palestinian Authority will visit Washington in hopes of meeting President-elect Donald Trump and to urge President Barack Obama to use his final weeks in office to take steps toward reviving the moribund peace process.

The delegation will be led by senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and include intelligence chief Majed Faraj and Husam Zomlot, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s strategic affairs adviser.

On Monday, the delegation is expected to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Senior officials said that the PA is hoping to come to an understanding with the Obama administration regarding a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlements.

The Palestinians are calling for the resolution to go to a vote at the UN Security Council before Trump takes office on January 20 and while Sweden — which has officially recognized a Palestinian state and is in favor of such a resolution — still holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council.

“Mahmoud Abbas wants to have some kind of strategic partnership with America and to establish a strong and stable relationship that can’t be affected by a change in the administration with the coming of Trump to the White House,” said Ashraf Ajrami, a former PA minister.

Ajrami added that the PA is hoping the incoming administration will “support the headlines of American policy that considers the 1967 borders the base of the two-state solution, considers east Jerusalem occupied territory.”

“Abbas wants to keep American policy as it is now and maybe urge the administration of Trump to intervene in a very helpful way to help the two sides to reach agreement,” Ajrami said.

Abbas hopes “to build on the declaration of Trump that he wants to end the endless war between Palestinians and Israel,” Ajrami said, in reference to an interview in the Wall Street Journal in which the president-elect expressed his hope of making “the deal that can’t be made” and end “the war that never ends” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, later in the month Abbas is slated to meet with the foreign ministers of nearly two dozen countries at a summit in Paris aimed at resuming stalled peace efforts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected an invitation by French President Francois Hollande to take part in the summit, reiterating his position that the only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations with the Palestinians.

In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes that will be broadcast Sunday, Netanyahu said that Trump feels “very warmly” about Israel and the Jewish people.

“I know Donald Trump. I know him very well. … His support for Israel is clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that,” the Israeli premier said.

Earlier this year in a speech at AIPAC, Trump attacked Obama’s policy on the conflict and blamed the Palestinians for rejecting Israel’s generous concessions for peace.

“When I become president the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one,” he said.

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