Fatah official: Arab states pressuring us to accept ‘deal of the century’

PA President Mahmoud Abbas attends the Arab League's foreign ministers meeting to discuss unannounced U.S. blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian peace, in Cairo, Egypt, April 21, 2019.

Trump has nothing to offer us, Netanyahu doesn’t believe in peace, says Abbas

A senior Fatah official has said that some Arab states have been exerting “immense pressure” on the Palestinians to accept Trump’s peace plan, also known as the “deal of the century.”
The unnamed official told Al-Khaleej Online news that Saudi Arabia was spearheading the campaign of pressure to force the Palestinians to positively respond to Trump’s upcoming plan.
“Some Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, are very interested in the deal of the century,” the official claimed. “They are using all means, including political and financial blackmail, to force the Palestinians to accept the deal of the century despite all the dangers it poses to the Palestinian cause.”
The Palestinian leadership, the official said, will not submit to any Arab, American or even Israeli pressure to accept the deal.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that the US administration has nothing to offer the Palestinians after all the decisions it has taken since December 2017, including recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the suspension of US financial aid to the Palestinians.
Abbas hinted that the Palestinians were close to making “decisive decisions” in wake of the policies and measures taken by Israel and the US administration. Palestinian key decision-making bodies have called for “revising” relations with Israel, revoking Palestinian recognition of Israel and suspending all agreements between the two sides.
Addressing an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Abbas said of US President Donald Trump’s upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East: “What’s left to offer us? Is there anything left to offer us that would make us happy? They took Jerusalem and the occupied territories, canceled the [rights of the] refugees and legitimized settlements. They want to fool us. They have nothing to offer us. Even if they want to offer something, it will be worse than anything else.”
He urged Arabs to provide financial and political support to the Palestinians. “We are facing difficult challenges,” he said.
In light of the US administration’s policies, Abbas said, the Palestinians will have to take “appropriate” decisions. “We can’t hear that the holy city of Jerusalem has been annexed to Israel,” he said. “After this crime, what can we expect?”
He also said the Palestinians don’t recognize Trump’s recent decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“We don’t accept the annexation of the Golan, Jerusalem and the Shaba Farms,” Abbas said, referring to Mount Dov, a small strip of disputed land at the intersection of the Lebanese-Syrian border and the Golan. “These are all Arab territories. They are all occupied territories, and Israel needs to quickly withdraw from them.”
Noting that he has met with Trump four times, Abbas said that during the last encounter he was left with the impression the US president was supportive of a two-state solution to the conflict.
“When we met for the fourth time, I had a feeling that we could resolve the Palestinian issue in half an hour,” Abbas told the Arab ministers. “Trump told me that he believes in the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders. He even supported the idea of deploying NATO forces in the West Bank.”
Two weeks later, Abbas said, he was surprised to hear Trump announce his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and halt US financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
“Then Trump halted all financial aid that was provided to us by previous US administrations,” Abbas pointed out. “Why is he doing this? Why did he change his position? Our first response was to stop contacts with the US administration, except for security relations. We cooperate with the US in combating terrorism. We are committed to combating all forms of terrorism.”
Abbas also lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming he does not believe in peace with the Palestinians. “We know from his positions, statements and insinuations that he doesn’t believe in peace between us and them,” he said. “Therefore, he was always saying that there is no Palestinian partner, although we extend our hand to him for real peace based on international legitimacy.”
Abbas said that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the only time the Palestinians were hopeful was during the era of former prime minister Ehud Olmert. “We negotiated with Olmert and had discussions with him, but we didn’t reach any results, because during the negotiations we found that he was being taken to prison.”
Abbas denied that he had received any offers from Olmert. “Some say that we received offers from Olmert, and the truth is, as Olmert later admitted, that there were understandings between us which were not completed, and which did not tackle all the issues.”
He accused Israel of “entirely breaching the Oslo Accords and all the subsequent agreements with the Palestinians, especially the Paris Economic Protocol. Until when will we tolerate Israel’s failure to honor all the agreements, while we are committed to all the agreements?” he asked.
Abbas further criticized Israel for deducting millions of shekels from tax and tariff revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians in response to payments made by the PA to families of security prisoners and Palestinians killed during attacks on Israelis.
Abbas said Israel rejected his offer to sit with the Palestinians and Americans to resolve the dispute over the payments. “We have been paying salaries to the families of prisoners, martyrs and wounded Palestinians since 1965,” he said. “It is our duty to care for their families.”
Since 1993, Abbas charged, Israel has not implemented one article of all the agreements signed with the Palestinians. “I would also like to add that Israel hasn’t implemented one international resolution since 1947,” he said. “There are 722 resolutions issued by the United Nations General Assembly, 86 Security Council resolutions and a large number of resolutions in Geneva from human rights groups. Not a single resolution has been implemented.”
Abbas told the Arab foreign ministers that he came to consult with them about the Palestinians’ planned measures to counter Israeli and American policies. “The Palestinian cause is not the cause of the Palestinian people alone, but the cause of the Arabs and Muslims,” he said. “We are facing difficult and impossible circumstances. We came to listen to you and see what are the views you could give us so we can take the appropriate decision at the appropriate time, especially as we are about to convene our Palestinian Central Council in mid-May to take appropriate, decisive and final decisions.”
Earlier, Abbas held talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi and discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian arena, particularly in the aftermath of Israel’s decision to deduct Palestinian tax and tariff revenues.•

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