August 1, 2020 | News | No Comments
Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was inadvertently helping Israel after the Palestinian leader delivered a furious speech denouncing Donald Trump and rejecting the US as a mediator for peace talks.
Mr Abbas spoke for more than two hours and said Mr Trump’s promise to deliver “the deal of the century” in the form of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal had turned into “the slap of century” after the US recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“We said no to Trump, we will not accept your project,” Mr Abbas said. “We will not accept for the US as a mediator, after what they did us.”
US-Palestinian relations have been in tatters since Mr Trump’s Jerusalem announcement in December and worsened further after the US administration threatened to cut aid to the UN agency which supports Palestinian refugees.
The White House had been expected to unveil a peace proposal in the spring but that plan looks uncertain as the Palestinians said they would refuse to take part in any negotiations brokered by the US and called for international mediation.
But despite his rhetoric, Mr Abbas announced no new policy steps. He did not cancel security coordination between Israel’s army and the Palestinian security forces nor rescind Palestinian recognition of Israel.
He also said he considered the 1993 Oslo Accords, which created the Palestinian Authority, to be dead but gave no indication of what he would do differently as a result.
Much of Mr Abbas’ speech was devoted to a rambling history lecture and Israeli leaders accused him of anti-Semitism he implied that 20th century European Jews preferred to stay in Europe and face the Holocaust rather than move to what is today Israel.
Jerusalem – Israel
Mr Netanyahu said Mr Abbas’ comments played into Israel’s narrative of the conflict. “He exposed what we have been saying all the time, that the root of the conflict is the basic refusal to recognise a Jewish state in any borders,” Mr Netanyahu said.
The Palestinians have recognised Israel since 1988 but reject Jewish settlements in the West Bank and insist on the right of Palestinian refugees from 1948 to return to their homes inside Israel – a demand Israel rejects.
UN vote to condemn Trump recognising Jerusalem as capital of Israel
Low point in US-Palestinian relations
In the buildup to the Central Council meeting on Sunday and Monday, Palestinian officials had stressed that all options were on the table for responding to Trump, including suspending the PLO’s recognition of Israel.
Abbas did not mention recognition but said the Oslo accords that led to the creation of his Palestinian Authority and envisioned a final resolution to the conflict were in effect finished.
"I am saying that Oslo, there is no Oslo. Israel ended Oslo," he said, referring to persistent Israeli settlement building and other issues seen as eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.
The 121-member council will meet Monday to discuss strategy for responding to Trump’s announcement, but Abbas offered few concrete policy proposals.
Profile | Mahmoud Abbas
Hugh Lovatt, Israel and Palestine Project Coordinator at the European Council for Foreign Relations, said while the speech was full of rhetoric, there was little noticeable policy.
"It is safe to say that president Abbas has done little to improve US-Palestinian relations which have now reached their nadir," he told AFP.
"Abbas’s rambling speech was also noteworthy for what was not there – namely, any real vision for moving beyond the failed US-led Oslo paradigm.
"Those hoping for a glimpse of a new Palestinian strategy to end the occupation or a shift towards a one-state solution will have been left disappointed."
While Palestinian leaders have been outraged by Trump’s moves, they also face difficult choices in how to respond as they seek to salvage remaining hopes of a two-state solution to the conflict.
Earlier this month, Palestinian leaders said they will not be "blackmailed" after Trump threatened to cut aid worth more than $300 million annually to force them to negotiate.
Trump says "we refused negotiations. May God demolish your house. When did we refuse?" asked an indignant Abbas.
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