Abbas aide denies Palestinians mending ties with US

Abbas aide denies Palestinians mending ties with US

Majdi al-Khaldi says restoring contacts between Ramallah and Washington would require US to back two-state solution, acknowledge ‘occupation’ of East Jerusalem

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Majdi al-Khaldi, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's senior diplomatic adviser. (Wafa)
Majdi al-Khaldi, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's senior diplomatic adviser. (Wafa)

A senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denied on Tuesday that the Palestinians have changed their position on their relations with the US administration.

The Israel Hayom daily reported on Tuesday that Ramallah and Washington recently exchanged messages with the aim of mending ties and ending the official Palestinian boycott of US President Donald Trump and his Middle East peace envoys. Israel Hayom attributed the report to an unnamed senior Palestinian official.

“The report is not accurate,” Majdi al-Khaldi, Abbas’s senior diplomatic affairs adviser, told The Times of Israel in a phone call. “Our firm position is that the political contacts can only be restored after the United States endorses the two-state solution and international legitimacy and recognizes that East Jerusalem is occupied.”

Shortly after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and initiated the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinians significantly downgraded their ties with Washington, including cutting relations with the White House.

US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on May 23, 2017. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

Addressing Palestinian and Arab journalists last week, Abbas outlined the same conditions as Khaldi for the resumption of ties between the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership and the US.

Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East peace envoys, have not publicly backed the two-state solution or referred to East Jerusalem as “occupied territory.”

The Israel Hayom report also cited the senior Palestinian official as saying that PA General Intelligence Services chief Majed Faraj was slated to depart to Washington soon to meet American officials, and that confidants of Abbas and Trump recently held talks.

Khaldi said that Palestinians never cut off security ties with the US, which he said Faraj manages.

“We still have security ties with America,” he said. “They are purely security ties. They do not deal with political matters.”

Abbas has said multiple times over the past several months that the Palestinians have maintained security ties with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Since the Palestinians severed their ties with the White House, Faraj has traveled to Washington and met CIA officials at least once.

During the same period of time, other senior security officials have also met CIA officials in Washington, according to senior Palestinian security officials, who asked to remain anonymous.

Asked whether Faraj would travel to Washington to meet security officials in the near future, Khaldi said it was “possible.”

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