US President Donald Trump (left) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in happier times. (PPO via Getty Images)

Abbas to US Lawmakers: Palestinians Will Not Bend to Trump Diktats

PA leader reiterates his rejection of White House’s ‘deal of the century’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has met with a delegation of US Democratic members of Congress. The meeting took place at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, where Abbas denounced President Donald Trump’s policies toward the Palestinian people.

Abbas told the 41 lawmakers – led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer – that he continues to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although he rejects the Trump Administration’s positions on Jerusalem, refugees, borders and security.

A senior Palestinian official who spoke to The Media Line on condition of anonymity said that “President Abbas told the Congress members that the American decisions won’t be the basis for any political solution.”

The official added that Abbas contended that the White House had “turned against the Palestinians.

“In short, a message was sent that we would not accept any US [diktats],” he said.

According to the official, the legislators confirmed their support of the two-state solution and said they will make efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Palestinian-American relations have been tense since December 2017, when the PA imposed a diplomatic boycott on the US administration in protest of its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move many Palestinians regard as “unfair” toward their cause.

Dalal Erikat, a leading Palestinian academic and a columnist for the Al Quds newspaper, told The Media Line that the boycott is aimed only at the Trump Administration.

“The Palestinian leadership met with members of the Democratic party, not the Republican party,” she noted. “Our leadership has nothing against the American people. To that end, this meeting was held to clarify the PA’s positions.”

Erikat said such meetings keep a line of communication open with Americans, and that if President Trump reverses his positions, the PA would reengage in peace talks.

“The PA would go along with any suggestion that supports the rights of the Palestinian people,” she concluded.

Moen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst and an expert on Israeli-Palestinian affairs, told The Media Line that “relations with Congress are very important for the Palestinian people, as [lawmakers] can force policies and influence American strategy towards the Palestinian cause.”

The PA has slammed the so-called ‘deal of the century,’ a peace plan spearheaded by President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, which initially focuses on urging countries to invest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before addressing the political issues that are at the core of the conflict.

Abbas has characterized the proposal as a “shameful bargain” that “will go to hell.” He has stressed that solving the Palestinian issue must begin with a political process.

Abd al-Karim Shber, a Palestinian political analyst and expert in international law, told The Media Line that the meeting in Ramallah was held in an effort to overcome “the challenges placed by Trump in front of the PA.”

He said the hope is that some Democratic legislators will listen to the Palestinians and help “remove the obstacles to opening a channel between the PA and the [White House].

“The correction of the relationship requires [President Trump to reverse] all of his biased moves that violate the rights of the Palestinians,” Shber said, calling the situation “a political conflict, and not a humanitarian or economic one.”

Meanwhile, the anonymous senior Palestinian official told The Media Line that during the meeting Abbas claimed that Israel had not abided by bilateral agreements signed under international auspices, but instead is trying to “destroy them and thus provoke the Palestinian leadership to stop working within [the framework of these deals].”

Abbas recently announced that the PA has established a committee to look into ways of implementing his decision to cut all ties with Israel.

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