Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Abbas Cancels Peace Negotiations Due To Leaked Plan

Abbas cancels peace negotiations due to Saudi leaked Jerusalem plan

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided to deliver Sunday’s speech – in which he ruled out a peace process as long as Donald Trump is US president – after parts of Trump’s Middle East peace plan were leaked to him by the Saudis, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday night.

Even before Sunday’s speech, Ben Caspit of The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew sister paper Maariv reported last week that Abbas was angered by the preliminary reports of Trump’s plan that the Saudis had given him. The report said those leaks were the real reason Abbas did not intend to return to the negotiating table, and not Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to the reports on Channel 2 and in Maariv, the Trump plan being written by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner would create a Palestinian entity that is less than a state, and it would not be based on the pre-1967 lines. Israel would control its borders and the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem would be an issue for negotiations, settlements might not have to be removed, and the Palestinian refugee issue would not be addressed.

“We understood that Trump’s declaration did not really matter and had no impact on what is happening on the ground,” Caspit quoted senior officials close to Abbas telling Knesset members who met with him last week. “We just used the declaration as a preemptive strike to torpedo the negotiations before the Americans finished drafting their peace plan, so we wouldn’t have to reject it publicly later on.”

The Palestinians were quoted saying that the international community accepted the Jerusalem excuse for ruling out negotiations because there is a consensus in the world on the city being the capital of two states.

In Sunday’s speech to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council, Abbas called Trump’s plan “the slap in the face of the century.”

Channel 2 diplomatic correspondent Dana Weiss reported that a close Abbas associate heard details of the plan in Saudi Arabia 10 days before Abbas’s Sunday speech in which he cursed at Trump and expressed hope that his “house would be destroyed.”

A senior White House official told the Post that neither Abbas nor his advisers had seen the plan and claimed they were working prematurely to undermine it.

“It is unfortunate that the Palestinian leadership is seeking to prejudice people against our unfinished plan, which they have not seen,” the senior official said. “We do not know what they claim to have seen. We will present proposals directly to the Israelis and the Palestinians at the appropriate time and under the right conditions. In the meantime, we will remain hard at work on a draft plan that benefits both sides while some prejudge and undermine efforts to achieving lasting peace.”

The Abbas speech has been criticized by politicians from across the Israeli political spectrum, including by current Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay, who called it “full of lies and antisemitism,” and former Labor leader and prime minister Ehud Barak, who said “Abbas’s speech was shameful and ridiculous.”

The main responsibility for the continuation of the conflict is on Abbas’s shoulders,” Barak wrote on Twitter. “Our responsibility is to take action not for the Palestinian’s caprices but for our own interest of guaranteeing Israel’s security and its future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

No comments: