Mahmoud Abbas says PA ready to take responsibility for Gaza ‘immediately after’ war

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says the PA is prepared to fulfill its responsibilities towards the Gaza Strip “immediately upon cessation of aggression against our people.”

“We have been and continue to be responsible for Gaza, and we will remain so,” he adds in an interview with the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

Commenting on reports that the US administration may be close to a plan to establish a Palestinian state, Abbas says: “We’ve had several meetings with top US officials, including [US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken, [National Security Advisor Jake] Sullivan and [CIA Director William] Burns, and they’ve assured us of their commitment to the two-state solution and supporting peace efforts based on international law.”

Abbas claims, however, that US support for Israel hinders tangible progress towards the establishment of a Palestinian state. “What matters most is action on the ground, not just words,” he says.

In response to US pressures to “revitalize” the PA through structural reforms, including the transfer of presidential functions to the prime minister and the reduction of Abbas’s role to a ceremonial one, the leader responds that the Palestinian people are independent in their decision-making.

Abbas laments the absence of an “Israeli partner” for peace, claiming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became a “hindrance” to the peace process.

In Abbas’s words, a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and Gaza along the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital should first obtain full UN membership through a Security Council resolution, followed by an international peace conference with guarantees and a clear timeline.

According to a Washington Post report citing US and Arab officials, the US could announce a blueprint for a recognition of the State of Palestine with a firm timeline in the next few weeks, though the timing is largely dependent on a deal to pause fighting in Gaza.

Most Popular