Abbas refused to meet House Democrats in protest at embassy move — report
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Abbas refused to meet House Democrats in protest at embassy move — report

Though many Democrats opposed the Jerusalem decision, PA says it refused to sit with March delegation because it has suspended ties with entire US government

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference on Jerusalem, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on April 11, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference on Jerusalem, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on April 11, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with a delegation of Congressional Democrats in March in protest at the decision of US President Donald Trump to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, the Haaretz newspaper reported Friday.

The delegation of 10 Democrats, many of whom criticized Trump for the Jerusalem decision, visited Israel and Jordan in March and was headed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The group held a series of meetings in Israel, including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador David Friedman.

The delegation also asked to meet with Abbas in Ramallah, but the request was refused. A PA source told Haaretz that the PA has suspended ties with the entire American government and makes no distinction between parties or the individual views of representatives.

The Palestinian source said that Abbas wanted to send a protest message to the delegation that, despite their opposition to the Trump administration, they had not presented a united and consolidated view against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and embassy move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) poses with a congressional delegation led by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, March 26, 2018 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

He told Haaretz that Abbas knew the delegation included solely Democrats, but felt that the party had given tacit approval to the embassy move.

A senior adviser to the Democratic Party told Haaretz that the delegation was divided in its response to Abbas’s snub.

“Some of them questioned whether Abbas was ready to move forward with the peace process,” the source said. “If he refuses to meet with Democrats who are not hesitant to criticize Israel, who is he prepared to work with? On the other hand, it showed the Palestinian anger and disappointment towards Trump.”

The delegation included representatives Adam Schiff and Jimmy Panetta of California, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes of Connecticut, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Henry Cueller of Texas, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Donald McEachin of Virginia and Jamie Raskin of Maryland.

Pelosi’s office had said the focus of the trip was “global and regional security and cooperation.” The visit was also to celebrate Israel’s 70th independence celebrations.

“There is no greater political accomplishment in the 20th century than the establishment of the State of Israel,” she said in a statement ahead of the trip.

“Our delegation is pleased to be able to extend the congratulations of the American people to the people of Israel as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Jewish state this spring,” the California Democrat added.

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