Report: President Trump Threatened to Cut PA Out of Talks

YERUSHALAYIM -
trump, beit lechem, palestinians, Abbas
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas attend a joint press conference in Beit Lechem last Tuesday. (Flash90)

New details emerged Monday of the heated exchange between U.S. President Donald Trump, whom a report Sunday said had “yelled” at Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas at their meeting in Beit Lechem last week. The new details in Yisrael Hayom said that President Trump had threatened to cut the Palestinians out of the negotiation process altogether unless Abbas and the PA stopped its support of terror.

In a report Sunday on Channel Two, President Trump is said to have accused Mr. Abbas of lying to him about his intentions for peace. According to the report, President Trump said that contrary to Mr. Abbas’s agreeing that he would do everything he could to support peace, Israeli officials had showed him how involved the PA – and he personally – was involved in incitement against Israel.

On Monday, the newspaper released more details on the matter, with President Trump telling Mr. Abbas that he would not ignore the PA’s funding of incitement and furnishing terrorists’ families with funds.

According to the report, Mr. Abbas replied that the fault was with Israel, which had stopped participating in a joint committee against incitement that had been set up after the signing of the Oslo Accords. In addition, he said, the PA did not directly pay terrorists or their families, but rather donated money to a fund that took care of that.

It was at that point that President Trump lost his patience, banged on the table, and began yelling at Mr. Abbas. “You can talk all you want about peace,” the report quoted President Trump as telling Mr. Abbas. “But you do nothing to promote it.” President Trump said that if the PA could not get its act together, he would promote a regional cooperation agreement between Israel and Arab states, cutting out the Palestinians altogether. Mr. Abbas said that he would oppose it, citing backing from Arab states whom he said supported him. President Trump told Abbas that he was wrong; that he had spoken with leaders of Arab states at the summit held in Saudi Arabia last week, and that they had told him that they would cooperate with President Trump on the matter, as long as the U.S. could guarantee that the Palestinians’ interests would not be harmed.

The Palestinian Authority on Monday issued a denial of a report on Sunday evening that U.S. President Donald Trump had “yelled” at Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas at their meeting in Beit Lechem last week. “This never happened,” PA officials told local media. “The story had been invented to hurt Palestinian-American relations.”

Speaking on Army Radio, former Arab MK Taleb a-Sana, now a senior adviser to Mr. Abbas, said that reports on the meeting “should be taken with skepticism. When Trump and Abbas met in Washington, the president encouraged Abbas and spoke to him in a positive manner. And a week later he is telling him that Abbas ‘cheated’ him? It doesn’t make sense.”