Abbas Threatens to Cut Off All Relations With Israel, U.S. Over Plan

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas arrives for an emergency meeting with the Arab League’s foreign ministers after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his Middle East peace plan, in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 1. (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

At an emergency meeting Saturday, the Arab League rejected the “deal of the century” peace plan presented earlier in the week by President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In a statement, the group said that the plan “does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people,” and that the League would not cooperate with the U.S. in implementing it. “The right of the State of Palestine is sovereignty over all lands conquered in 1967 including East Jerusalem. We warn Israel not to implement any parts of the plan.”

The meeting was chaired by Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, who declared that he wanted nothing to do with the plan. “Trump wanted to speak with me and show me the plan,” he told the group. “He was not doing me any favors. I didn’t just land here from the moon so that he could send me a copy of the plan. I will never accept this solution,” Abbas said. “I will not have it recorded in my history that I have sold Yerushalayim.”

He again threatened to cut off all agreements with Israel. “With this plan Israel has canceled all the agreements with us and violated the legitimacy that the international community has given the agreements. Therefore we declare that we will have no relations with Israel or the United States, including security arrangements.” If there have not been negotiations until now, it was all Netanyahu’s fault, Abbas said. “Throughout his term there has been no progress. Netanyahu and Ehud Barak before him were opposed to the Oslo Accords. We had some progress with Ehud Olmert, we agreed on 70% of issues before he was sent to jail.”

The map that was presented, in which Israel would annex areas of Yehudah and Shomron, is also unacceptable. “They left us a country full of holes like Swiss cheese, and they call this the future Palestinian state,” Abbas said. “We say in response that we will not accept this framework under any circumstances, and I say directly that if Israel and the U.S. continue to violate the agreements with us, we will break off relations altogether, including security cooperation. The Israelis will have to take full responsibility for the ramifications of this as an occupying power.”

Abbas also said that he was not interested in “annexing” Arab areas of Israel, such as the Triangle area between Kalkilye and Umm el-Faham along the 1948 armistice lines. “For better or worse Israel can take it, along with its residents. Ahmed Tibi and whoever, that whole crowd of Knesset members, and the other one, what’s his name,” were not welcome in the Palestinian state, Abbas said, with the latter MK apparently United Arab List head Ayman Odeh.

Abbas said that he would also refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “Trump wants me to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. It is not a Jewish state, it is nothing. Israel has 1.9 million Arabs, and 2 million Russian Christians who immigrated to Israel when the Soviet Union fell. Anyone who wanted to could come to Israel, they were paid money to say they were Jews. Even among the Ethiopian immigrants the percentage of Jews is very low. What do they mean by recognizing a ‘Jewish state’?”

In response, Netanyahu said that “apparently Abbas never heard about the different tribes of Israel – the Ethiopian immigrants and those of the former Soviet Union. They are our brothers and sisters, Jews from birth who for generations in the exile dreamed of returning to Zion, and merited to fulfill their dream.”

Commenting on the Arab League decision, an American official was quoted by CNN as saying that the Arab League “needs to try a different tact.” If it doesn’t, “the fate of the Palestinian people will not change. The United States appreciates the positive criticism of the Arab states, including over the peace plan,” the official said. “Only with a will to try a new approach will there be a breakthrough in the dispute that has left the Palestinian people to suffer for decades. Arab League decisions in the past have not led to peace or progress. It’s important we try a new approach, otherwise the fate of the Palestinian people will not change.”