TEL AVIV – Ahead of the arrival of a senior U.S. delegation to the region to jump start the peace process, the Palestinian leadership has reiterated that “there will be no peace” without the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Palestinian leadership, however, failed to mention that the Palestinian Authority rejected numerous Israeli statehood offers in the past.
The U.S. delegation, which will arrive in Jerusalem on Thursday, includes Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, and Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. The officials will meet with leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In a joint statement from Cairo, Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers welcomed the U.S. team, saying they “appreciated the American role to achieve peace.” But they also warned that they would not compromise on any solution to the conflict that deviated from the Saudi-led 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared that the “united Arab position” is “there will be no peace without the establishment of a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders,” while his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman al-Safadi, said the Americans need to know that “we are not coming up with a new proposal.”
Breitbart Jerusalem reported that on Sunday that PA President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israeli lawmakers that despite being assured on at least 20 occasions that the Americans supported the cessation of settlement construction as well as the two-state solution, Trump’s envoys had refused to convey that same message to the Israelis.
“I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” Abbas told a delegation of leftwing Israeli lawmakers visiting Ramallah.
“I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States,” Abbas said. “Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained. They said they would consider it, but then they didn’t get back to me.”
He added that it is impossible to know what Trump and his aides have in mind.
Behind the scenes, however, Palestinian leaders are said to be increasingly disillusioned with the White House. In part, this is because of the Trump administration’s tougher stance on the PA’s policy of paying monthly salaries to convicted terrorists and their families — a practice widely regarded as incentivizing terror – at an annual cost of $300 million. After his last meeting with Kushner on June 23, Abbas was reported to have been furious at an American demand that the PA cut payments to the families of 600 Palestinian terrorists serving life sentences in Israeli prisons. Should the forthcoming session of Congress pass the Taylor Force Act — which would severely restrict US aid to the PA until the State Department certifies that it is no longer inciting and funding terrorist violence – the PA’s relationship with Kushner and his team is likely to be further strained.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Abbas told a visiting delegation from Israel’s left-wing Meretz party that he had met with Trump’s envoys about 20 times, being assured on each occasion of the administration’s support for a two-state solution.
“But when he would ask the envoys, ‘Do you say this to the Israeli government?’ they would not answer him,” said Issawi Frej, one of the Meretz Knesset members who met with the Palestinian leader in Ramallah, the LA Times reported. The paper added that Frej had observed, “The Palestinian Authority is almost at the point of despair — they have no expectations from the Trump administration or the delegation that is on its way.”
The Palestinian ambassador to Washington, Husam Zomlot, warned in an interview with the National that if the U.S. delegation refuses to meet the terms set by the Palestinians they would resort to other measures including “popular resistance” or turning to the UN.
“If we don’t succeed this time, all the options are Armaggedonist,” Zomlot said.
“For the last three months we have done the talking, the microphone was with us, we explained in detail where we see things going, and now it’s time to listen,” Zomlot said, adding that the “only final solution is the two states based on 1967 borders” and demanding “crystal clarity from the U.S. before we start the journey, on where we are going and how we will get there.”