Abbas: Unlike Balfour Declaration, Trump peace plan ‘will not pass’
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Abbas: Unlike Balfour Declaration, Trump peace plan ‘will not pass’

PA president says Palestinians facing ‘most dangerous stage’ in their history; pledges he’ll continue paying families of Palestinian attackers

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks, during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 28, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks, during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 28, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday again vowed to oppose any peace proposal by US President Donald Trump as PLO officials met to consider their next moves.

Speaking at the opening of a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s central council, Abbas said Palestinians were facing perhaps the “most dangerous stage” in their history, highlighting a series of measures taken by Trump including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Abbas has boycotted the White House since that December decision, though the US president’s team is still expected to release a peace plan in the coming months.

Abbas compared the expected Trump proposal to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which saw the British government commit to the creation of a state for Jews in historic Palestine.

“If the Balfour Declaration passed, this deal will not pass,” he pledged.

The US has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Palestinians, with Trump angered by Abbas’s refusal to meet with him or members of his administration.

US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pose for a photograph during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

He has called on Abbas to negotiate, but Palestinian leaders say they are being blackmailed to accept Trump’s terms, which they see as blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

“They are still talking about the deal of the era. ‘We will prepare and present you the deal of the era. In a month, the deal of the era. In two months, the deal of the era. In three months, the deal of the era’ You already presented all of the deal of the era. What of the deal of era remains. Jerusalem, you swallowed it and moved your embassy to it. Refugees and the right of refugees, you put an end to that,” Abbas added, saying Trump’s actions amounted to imposing a deal unilaterally.

The Palestinian leader also renewed his support for salaries for families of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted of carrying out deadly terror attacks on Israelis, and of those who died in the attempt to do so.

Israel brands the payments for families as encouraging terrorism, and the United States has also criticized them.

Abbas has called those jailed or killed “heroes.”

“We must pay all of them. If we had one [penny] left, it would be for them,” he said.

The Palestinian leader also accused his Hamas rivals of serving US interests by refusing to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, a terror group seeking to destroy Israel, seized control of the coastal enclave from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007 and attempts since then at reconciliation between the two have failed.

Abbas fears the US is planning a proposal that would offer the Palestinians limited statehood in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and some autonomy in parts of the West Bank. Abbas demands full independence in both territories.

In his speech Monday, Abbas said that Hamas’s refusal to give up control of Gaza is “accepting the thoughts of the enemy, who plans to have a mini state in Gaza and autonomy in West Bank.”

Abbas also contended the entirety of East Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital. 

“East Jerusalem is our capital,” he said. “By the meter, Jerusalem that was occupied in 1967 is our capital…Jerusalem and Palestine are not for sale or bargaining.” 

Abbas has long said he wants East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian. Israel considers both the eastern and western halves of Jerusalem to be its sovereign territory.

The PA president added that settlers should leave the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“From the first to the last stone, settlement building is illegal,” he said. “This is our land. They should depart from it.” 

In 2013, Abbas also said no settlers could remain in a future Palestinian state. 

Adam Rasgon contributed to this article.

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