TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s recent moves vis-à-vis the Palestinians are encouraging terror and violence that will explode in the U.S. and Israel’s face, Palestinian Authority officials reportedly said, adding that Trump is an enemy of the Palestinians and of peace.
Officials close to PA President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted telling Israel’s Channel 10 that the PA may cut the last vestiges of ties with the U.S. over those moves, which include the shuttering of the PLO office in Washington.
“Ties between the PA and Trump have deteriorated to so unprecedented a nadir” that the PA is considering cutting all remaining contacts, the unnamed PA officials were quoted by the TV report as saying.
“Trump has become an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace,” the officials said according to a translation by the Times of Israel. “The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the U.S.”
Apart from $42 million earmarked for security cooperation, the U.S. cut all Palestinian aid this year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday hailed the Trump administration’s decision to shutter the PLO mission. The same day, the Palestinian envoy was told he and his staff have a month to close the office down.
“The U.S. took the correct decision,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace.”
According to Channel 10, PA officials are warning that Abbas will attempt to garner support against Trump at the UN General Assembly later this month. “He plans to call him some very undiplomatic things,” the TV report quoted PA officials saying.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Tuesday said the PLO office was being closed because the Palestinians were not showing a willingness to make peace.
“We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017,” said Nauert.
“However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel. … To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”
Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat fired back, “How can anyone of sane mind believe that these people can be honest brokers?”
“They are no longer partners on the peace process,” Erekat said.
The Channel 10 report also said that the PA is mulling cutting ties with Egypt over the latter’s close relations with the Trump administration as well as attempts at brokering a long-term Israel-Hamas ceasefire.
The Palestinians denied an Arabic-language report that the U.S. was advancing an initiative to have Palestinians labeled as refugees and living in Arab countries receive full citizenship in those countries.
“This report is totally false,” a Fatah Central Committee member and PLO Executive Committee member told the Times of Israel.
“We and the Arab states have not discussed naturalizing Palestinian refugees,” he said. “Every time I go to Lebanon, I meet with different religious leaders, politicians and others. The one thing they all agree on is that they oppose naturalizing Palestinian refugees.”
“Syrian officials also always tell us that they are against naturalizing Palestinian refugees,” he said.
Palestinian “refugees” are the only so-called refugees in the world that pass that status on to their descendants in perpetuity. While the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is said to minister to 5.1 million refugees, the actual numbers are unclear, with conflicting statistics regarding the Palestinian diaspora.