U.S. to PA: Shape Up in Negotiations or Ship Out

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations. (Flash90)

Threats by the Palestinian Authority to kill any agreement resulting from the indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel unless it is given full civil control of Gaza are not going down well with the United States. In a statement overnight Wednesday, American special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt said that if the PA had any problems with the agreement, it should get involved in the negotiating process. “The Palestinian Authority cannot criticize from the sidelines,” the statement said. “The Palestinian Authority should be part of the solution for the Palestinians of Gaza and Palestinians as a whole. If not, others will fill that void.”

In a sharply-worded speech in Ramallah a week ago Saturday, Abbas said that “we will not agree to Gaza being removed from the PA.” If the PA is not given full authority over Gaza, he said, then Hamas should take over PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria – a condition he knows neither Israel, the United States, or even Jordan and Egypt would agree to, Maariv said. “There is no connection between the ceasefire and the unity talks between Palestinian factions,” he said. “We also do not agree to the delivery and distribution of humanitarian assistance to Gaza other than via the PA,” he added. In addition, the PA would not accept U.S. assistance on negotiations in any way, until the American Embassy was moved out of Yerusahalayim.

Egypt, on the other hand, got kudos from Greenblatt for its efforts as a third-party negotiator in the Israel-Hamas deal. The Trump Administration strongly supports the efforts of President Al Sisi and the Egyptian government ‎to help facilitate an agreement to restore calm in Gaza and bring about the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza,” the statement said. “Leadership is about making hard choices. The people of Gaza, and Israelis in the area around Gaza, have suffered for far too long. It is time for the Palestinian Authority to lead the Palestinian people – all Palestinians – to a better future.”

Hadashot News reported Wednesday that U.S. Ambassador David Friedman told Israeli activists in Washington that those who thought that President Donald Trump was preparing to “squeeze” Israel for concessions were mistaken. At a rally last week, Trump said that it was the “Palestinian’s turn” to “get something good” in the deal to resolve the Middle East dispute. Trump was also quoted as saying that Israel would pay “a heavy price” in negotiations, after the U.S. moved its embassy to Yerushalayim. But Friedman said this was not accurate.

“He said ‘heavier price,’ not ‘a heavy price,’ as in he hoped Israel would offer more,” Friedman told the group. “Israel is not expected to pay any ‘price’ in return for the embassy move. What he might do is go to the Israelis and say ‘can you give a little more? Look what we’ve done for you. Is there anything else you can do?’ He does not have anything specific in mind.”