In another blow to the Palestinian Authority, the United States has rejected requests by the PA that it be included in discussions that will lead to the formation of the final version of the peace plan to be presented by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, Ma’ariv reported Wednesday. Not only will the PA not be part of the formation of the plan, the report quoted U.S. officials as saying that PA negotiators will not even be able to see the plan until it is finally presented, most likely by the end of April.
The report did not say if the same conditions applied to Israel. Once the plan is presented, the report said, the administration will set up a negotiating committee that will work with Israel and the PA to begin discussions and eventual implementation of the plan. The barring of the PA from the formation process, an administration official was quoted as saying, is “a bitter pill for the Palestinians to swallow.”
It was just the latest in a series of moves by the U.S. that has stripped the PA from privileges and benefits that it had enjoyed. In September, the U.S. pulled millions in funding that had already been approved by Congress to support groups that facilitate meetings between Israelis and Palestinians. The money that was being cut was used by USAID (United States Agency for International Development), such as Conflict Management and Mitigation Program, Kids4Peace, and other groups. The money had been used for facilitating activities between Israelis and Palestinians, including dialogues, sports matches and other events. Before that, the State Department had ordered the closure of the Washington D.C. mission of the PLO. And, of course, the U.S. last May moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.
In an interview with Reuters, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that he did not believe the U.S. would ever present its much-ballyhooed “deal of the century” – because it had no peace plan. “I don’t think they will ever introduce a plan,” Erekat said in the interview. “The whole world is rejecting their ideas. They are already implementing their plan by changing the terms of reference.” The talk of a peace plan is just a fig leaf to hide the fact that Washington had decided to accept Israel’s positions on the conflict. The one contribution of the administration of President Donald Trump, he added, was “just to take Israelis and Palestinians off the path to peace, off the path of the two-state solution.”