Palestinians deny report Abbas called Trump 'son of a dog'

PA urges Arabs to boycott peace plan launch, but Gulf states may vaguely back it

Abbas said to tell officials he’ll allow street protests, with ‘difficult days’ ahead; Gulf states reportedly set to generally back proposal, unless it allows immediate annexation

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas gives a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 11, 2019. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas gives a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 11, 2019. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called an emergency meeting of Palestinian leadership the following day, shortly before the US formally announces its long-anticipated Middle East peace proposal.

Concurrently, the PA urged Arab ambassadors in the US not to attend the unveiling of the peace plan. The officials PA news agency Wafa claimed envoys had been invited to the event, but Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina called on them to refuse, saying the Palestinians consider it “a conspiracy aimed at undermining the rights of the Palestinian people and thwarting the establishment of the State of Palestine.”

Channel 13 news reported that Arab Gulf States are likely to voice general support for Washington’s Middle East peace proposal, but only if it does not allow Israel to immediately annex parts of the West Bank. The report cited a senior Gulf state official.

The countries are expected to issue a statement of support for peace talks and announce the effort as a “good start.” If the outline allows for immediate annexation, however, the moderate Sunni countries will be compelled to renounce the plan, the official said.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the plan “delusional” and said it would be dead on arrival.

US President Donald Trump on Monday claimed that “many of the Arab nations have agreed to it. They like it, they think it’s great. They think it’s a big start.”

According to unconfirmed reports in Hebrew media, Abbas has also instructed Palestinian security not to stop protesters from confronting Israeli forces in the West Bank as the US releases the plan.

According to the Ynet news site, Abbas said: “We need to enlist all the young people. Stay out on the streets. We’re going to be on emergency footing in the coming days… Ahead of us are difficult days and we will need to bear the consequences of refusing the agreement.”

Abbas has reportedly refused to take phone calls from Trump in the lead-up to the plan’s release.

“There were attempts by Trump to hold a phone call with Abbas, but the latter refused,” a high-ranking Palestinian official, who was not named, told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, adding that the attempted calls took place in the past couple of days.

Channel 12 news on Monday reported that Abbas called Trump “a dog, son of a dog” in a meeting with Fatah officials over the past day. The report did not cite any sources, and the PA denied it, with an official in Abbas’s office saying no formal meeting of Fatah leadership took place on Monday or Sunday.

US President Trump hosts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, January 27, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The US administration will publish its long-anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal on Tuesday, Trump confirmed on Monday, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

“Peace in the Middle East has been long sought, for many, many years and decades and centuries. This is an opportunity. We’ll see what happens. Whatever it is, it is,” he said.

“Tomorrow at 12 o’clock, we’re going to show a plan, it’s been worked on by everybody. And we’ll see whether or not it catches hold. If it does, that would be great. And if it doesn’t, we’re going to have to live with that too. But I think that it might have a chance,” Trump said.

Trump predicted that the Palestinians will “ultimately” come around to giving their support. “They probably won’t want it initially. I think in the end they will,” he said. “I think in the end they’re going to want it. It’s very good for them. In fact, it’s overly good to them. So we’ll see what happens. Now without them, we don’t do the deal. And that’s okay.”

If no peace deal can be achieved, he said, “life goes on.”

After meeting with Netanyahu, Trump met with the premier’s political rival, Benny Gantz, who called the outline a“significant and historic milestone,” adding that it needed to be implemented in the context of a deal with Israel’s neighbors.

US President Donald Trump meets with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz in the White House in Washington on January 27, 2020 (Elad Malka)

Israel has peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and has seen warming ties with Sunni-Arab Gulf states in recent years, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations, due to shared concerns about an increasingly belligerent Iran.

Arab leaders, however, have also indicated that true normalization can not take place so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved.

Hebrew media reports last week said the US administration was seeking support for the plan from Arab countries.

Abbas has vowed to reject any American peace plan and has said the Palestinians have recently cut off all contacts with the US, other than with American security officials as a part of their commitment “to fight terrorism.”

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday urged international powers to boycott Trump’s peace plan.

And Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh suggested on Sunday that the Palestinians could dissolve the PA, if the plan is promoted unilaterally.

“The leadership will hold a series of meetings on all levels — including the factions and organizations — to announce its total rejection of conceding Jerusalem,” Abu Rudeineh told the Voice of Palestine, the official PA radio station, according to the government-run Wafa news site.

Since late 2017, the Trump administration has made several moves seen as marginalizing the Palestinians: recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, and closing the PLO representative office in Washington.

The so-called Deal of the Century is said to be the most pro-Israel peace proposal ever published by an American administration, and is reported to include an endorsement of Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and significant parts of the West Bank. Reliable information about the plan’s details remain elusive, however, with sources in Jerusalem saying the plan has not been finalized.

According to the Reuters news agency, citing a US official, Trump will tell Netanyahu and Gantz that they have until the Knesset elections to work on the administration’s plan, potentially throwing the high stakes diplomatic gambit into Israel’s domestic political stew.

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