TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas snubbed a visiting delegation of Republican members of Congress on Tuesday, even though he had met with a delegation of Democrats the week before, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) told the Jewish Insider.
Abbas sent other senior officials in his stead to meet the 31-member Republican delegation, who are in Israel on a week-long AIPAC-affiliated trip, the report said.
Gonzalez (R-OH) said that he decided not to go to Ramallah once he found out that Abbas would not be in attendance.
“I think it’s because the administration has been awfully hard on Palestinians and very supportive of Israel — which is the right thing to do — and I think [Abbas] saw the Republicans as maybe not worth his time,” Gonzalez said.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met with the delegation.
Shtayyeh expressed his concern to the Republican members over the U.S.’s supposed “bias.”
“The peace process needs serious intentions; Israel does not have these intentions and the US is biased toward Israel,” the official PA news site Wafa quoted Shtayyeh as saying.
Last week, Abbas met with 41 Democratic party members led by House majority leader Steny Hoyer, and told them that he will not accept American “dictates.”
On Sunday, Hoyer told journalists that he was not enthusiastic about Abbas’ commitment to peace. “Frankly I did not hear anything new,” Hoyer said of the meeting with Abbas. “He indicated he was prepared to sit down and negotiate without preconditions — and then he referenced a number of preconditions.”
Abbas over the weekend said settlements in the West Bank will be swept into “the dustbins of history” and argued that Palestinians are the original inhabitants of the land.
“We are the Canaanites,” Abbas said of the Palestinians, “who were here 5,000 years ago.”
In 2017, Abbas refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence over President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.