U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” peace plan is “dead,” said Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. In an interview with Army Radio’s Arab Affairs correspondent at his office in Ramallah, Abbas said that the PA was writing off the plan, even before it was published.
“We said all along that the deal of the century had no basis in reality,” Abbas said. “After the comments by Pompeo, it is now lifeless. The Americans have no right to contradict decisions made by international bodies,” such as the United Nations, he said.
In addition, he said, it was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who refused to meet with him, not the opposite, as Netanyahu was attempting to portray it. He had attempted to meet with Netanyahu 20 times, but was turned down each time. “The last time we met was in 2010,” Abbas said. When asked, Abbas refused to say who he wanted to see as prime minister, but said that “we hope that the government will seek peace.”
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reversed a policy that had been proclaimed by the State Department decades ago, saying that the U.S. would no longer view Jewish towns in Yehudah and Shomron as illegal. “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” Pompeo said. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”
In response, the PA slammed the announcement, saying that it “contradicts totally with international law.” PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said that “the U.S. administration has lost its credibility to play any future role in the peace process.” PA negotiator Saeb Erekat called it “irresponsible.” And the PA foreign minister said that “we warn of the danger in the change of the American stance regarding the settlements, and the impact it will have on efforts to achieve peace.”
But PA officials quoted by Yisrael Hayom said that the latest development proved that the PA was mistaken in its approach. “The boycott that Abbas has imposed on the Trump administration has done more harm than good,” the sources said. “But Abbas continues to listen to the bad advice offered by his advisors, who urge him to further distance himself from the Trump administration and to turn a cold shoulder to all efforts by the State Department to encourage talks.”
Abbas appeared to be awaiting for an “angry Arab response,” which is unlikely to come this time, as it did not when the Trump administration moved the U.S. Embassy to Yerushalayim, and when it recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The announcement Monday caught everyone in the PA by surprise, “and it’s likely that there will be more surprises” – such as U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley or even Area C, if Israel takes those actions, the sources said. “Unfortunately, Abbas is only listening to those who are telling him to dig in,” the sources added.