Abbas Sets Conditions for Peace Talks

YERUSHALAYIM -
peace plan
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting with the Arab media in Ramallah, Thursday. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas set forth his conditions for a resumption of peace talks involving the United States on Thursday.

Addressing the Trump administration, Abbas said: “You recognize the vision of two states and [acknowledge] East Jerusalem is occupied land and international legitimacy is the basis of any dialogue. If you say these words to me or send me these words on a small piece of paper… you will find me at the White House the following day,” Abbas said, according to The Times of Israel. “We have not closed the door on America but rather left it ajar.”

President Donald Trump has from the beginning of his term avoided committing to a two-state solution; that and the other stipulations would likely preclude any renewal of contacts between Washington and Ramallah at this juncture.

Abbas’s comments came in the course of another diatribe against the Bahrain conference in its capital Manama, which concluded last week, denouncing it as a “big lie.”

“Of course, Manama started with a speech by [Jared] Kushner and ended with a speech by Kushner. If anyone understands what else [happened], I ask you to inform me because I did not understand that anything did. That is all that came out of it,” Abbas said, in a speech to Arab and Palestinian journalists in Ramallah.

“It came and went. It ended. Some Arabs attended and some did not. Some Europeans attended and some did not. It is a big lie that Kushner and others invented to make fools of the people. Nobody makes fools of us,” he added.

A few hours earlier on Thursday, Kushner told reporters in a rare, on-the-record telephone briefing, during which he said that the president remains personally “very fond” of Abbas, despite the PA boycott of U.S. officials and diplomatic initiatives.

That might have been intended to open the door to a reconciliation, but Kushner’s remarks about the core issue of Palestinian refugees and their descendants would likely have the opposite effect. Kushner said that the U.S. peace plan will seek to promote integration of Palestinians inside Arab countries where they now reside, rather than endorsing a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians to Israel, that Israel cannot agree to.