Abbas said to refuse to take phone call from Trump

PA president reportedly turned down multiple requests over last few days as US prepares to roll out peace plan already rejected by Ramallah

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

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks to reporters at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June. 23, 2019. (AP/Nasser Nasser)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks to reporters at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June. 23, 2019. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly refused to take a phone call from US President Donald Trump ahead of the White House’s expected release of a Mideast peace plan rejected by Ramallah as one-sided in favor of Israel.

The report by the state-run Turkish Anadolu Agency on Monday came ahead of separate meetings that Trump is slated to hold with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz in Washington, DC to discuss the US administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“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 Anadolu, adding that the attempted calls took place in the past couple of days.

Trump said last Thursday that he would likely release the long-awaited US plan this week. He said there had been some contact with the Palestinians over the issue and would be more.

PA Social Affairs Minister Ahmad Majdalani confirmed the Anadolu report to the Gaza-based Dunia al-Watan news site, stating that Abbas recently “refused a phone call from Trump.”

The Palestinians have called for the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and a “just solution” to the refugee issue.

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.”

The White House refused to comment. Reports in the Israeli press in recent days had indicated that the White House was considering inviting Abbas to Washington for talks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas listens while US President Donald Trump makes a statement for the press before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said he did not know of the refused call, but added that Ramallah was steadfast against discussing most diplomatic matters with the US.

“The president has been very clear that we will not hold any communications with Americans except through the security channel,” he told The Times of Israel.

Ahmad said Abbas even refused to meet with Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner in June 2018, who wanted to pay a courtesy visit after the Palestinian leader was hospitalized for several days.

“Kushner only wanted to pay him a visit to wish him good health and the president even refused that,” he said.

A US official speaking on condition of anonymity denied in October 2018 that Kushner had requested such a meeting with Abbas.

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.

Channel 12, citing unnamed Israeli sources, reported on Thursday that the Trump administration’s plan calls for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and 100-plus settlements, as well as the establishment of a Palestinian state, on condition that the Hamas terror group gives up its weapons and the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The report also said that the US plan would grant Israel full security control in the Jordan Valley, and provide for some minor land swaps and a possible absorption of some Palestinian refugees in Israel; it also said if Israel accepts the plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel would have US support to begin annexing settlements unilaterally.

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