Macron said to tell Abbas not to rule out Trump peace plan

TV report says top aide to French president met with PA leaders in Ramallah, implored them to give US proposal a ‘chance’

French president Emmanuel Macron (C) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) to the Elysee presidential palace in Paris for a meeting on December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik)
French president Emmanuel Macron (C) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) to the Elysee presidential palace in Paris for a meeting on December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik)

With Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ramping up his rhetoric against the United States, French President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly implored the aging Palestinian leader not to rule out a peace plan being prepared by the Trump administration.

According to a Channel 10 report Thursday, Macron dispatched his foreign policy adviser Aurelien Lechevallier to a secret visit to Ramallah earlier this week where he met with PA security chief Majed Faraj, longtime negotiator Saeb Erekat and other Palestinian officials.

During his meetings, Lechevallier stressed that Macron expects the PA to remain committed to non-violence and to a two-state solution, as well as to give Trump’s peace plan a “chance.”

“Don’t reject Trump’s peace plan off the bat,” Channel 10 reported Lechevallier as telling Palestinian officials. “Give it a chance.”

The report said Lechevallier told the Palestinians that although they may object to Trump’s peace plan, they should not end their recognition of Israel in protest or tear up the Oslo Accords, which formalized the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and created the PA.

“Maybe your right and the plan is bad and unacceptable. But don’t blow [it] up right now,” said Lechevallier. “It would be a pity if you chucked the plan in the trash before you get it. First read it and then decide whether to say no.”

US President Donald Trump (L) and PA President Mahmoud Abbas leave following a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

Abbas met with Macron last month in Paris, where he rejected any role in the US peace process. The PA leader has increasingly struck out at the US since Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, culminating in a Sunday speech in which he referred to a US peace deal as the “slap of the century” and claimed Israel is a European “colonial project.”

According to a Hadashot TV news report Tuesday, Abbas’ fiery address came after Saudi officials informed him of the parameters of Trump’s peace plan, which includes a number of components previously rejected by the Palestinians.

Channel 10 reported that Macron has been working to calm Abbas, telling him last month that “you have international support. But [you] can’t take too harsh of measures.”

The TV channel said Macron’s efforts to reassure Abbas have been coordinated with Trump, with the two leaders speaking by phone multiple times in recent weeks.

As part of the effort to defuse the tensions, Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jason Greenblatt, arrived in Israel on Wednesday. He was set to take part in meetings with members of the so-called Middle East Quartet — the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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