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Abbas wishes Trump ‘full and speedy recovery’ from COVID–19

Ex-negotiator Saeb Erekat conveys terse well-wishes to the US president, who Ramallah has boycotted for almost three years

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)
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)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday wished US President Donald Trump a swift recovery from his bout of COVID-19.

A laconic message conveyed by the former top PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abbas “wishes to US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania a full and speedy recovery.”

Relations between Ramallah and the Trump administration have been non-existent since the US leader recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 and moved the US embassy to the city six months later.

The Palestinian Authority responded by halting all cooperation with Washington, leading the White House in turn to cut millions of dollars in annual aid to the cash-strapped Authority.

PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat addresses the media following a meeting with diplomats in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on January 30, 2019. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Ramallah has also decried Washington’s role in the recent peace deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, agreements which it branded despicable and a betrayal by the Gulf states.

Recently the PA attacked the administration for orchestrating decisions by Serbia and Kosovo to establish embassies in Jerusalem.

“Palestine has become a victim of the electoral ambitions of President Trump, whose team would take any action, no matter how destructive for peace and a rules-based world order, to achieve his re-election,” Erekat charged at the time.

The US claims it is continuing to make efforts to bring Palestinians to the negotiating table on the Trump administration’s peace plan. US officials have said previously that the plan is a blueprint rather than a final document, but Palestinians pre-emptively rejected the proposal outright, seeing it as heavily biased toward Israel, and have refused to discuss it.

Trump himself has said repeatedly that he expects the Palestinians ultimately to make peace with Israel based on the plan, which allocates some 70 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians for a demilitarized state under overall Israeli security control, with some additional land swaps from inside Israel, and a minor presence in Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods outside the security barrier. The Israel-UAE peace treaty signed last month indefinitely suspends Israeli plans to annex the remaining 30 percent of the West Bank, covering all the settlements and the Jordan Valley, a process Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had intended to start earlier this summer.

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