‘Oslo Accords are dead,’ Abbas tells Israeli left-wing leader

PA president tells Meretz head Zehava Galon that Trump had promised him a ‘good deal’ before ‘punishing’ Palestinians; hopes alternative peace mediator can be found

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a press conference in Istanbul, December 13, 2017. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a press conference in Istanbul, December 13, 2017. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Meretz party leader Zehava Galon Friday that “the Oslo Accords are dead,” Channel 10 news reported.

Abbas, speaking with Galon to express condolences on the death of her father, said US President Donald Trump had, in several past conversations, “promised a good deal to [resolve] the conflict, and then came this unfortunate surprise, which we cannot accept.”

Palestinians froze their ties with Washington, and said they would not accept the administration as a peace broker, following Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The US has reacted to the boycott by threatening to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars it provides in aid.

Galon recounted that Abbas told her: “We are prepared for negotiations, and we never intended to leave the talks, but regrettably no one is offering us talks, especially not the Americans, who now wish to punish us.”

He added, she said, that “The Oslo Accords are dead, and even though Israel has not lived up to its obligations, we have so far not halted security cooperation. We are waiting to see if there can be negotiations under fair mediators.”

But he stressed that that term no longer applied to the US, and expressed hope that Europe, the Middle East Quartet (which includes the US) and Arabic countries could come together to provide such mediation.

Meretz head MK Zehava Galon shakes hands with Abbas in a meeting in Ramallah, 2013 (photo credit: Via Facebook)

At the start of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos Thursday, Trump said the US would no longer provide aid to the Palestinians if they refused to engage in US-brokered peace talks with Israel.

He suggested that his recognition of Jerusalem had settled one of the key issues in the conflict.

“The hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem,” he said. “We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem. We took it off the table.”

The Palestinians rejected the threat, saying peace talks were “off the table” if the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was not reversed.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the president’s latest remarks showed “the US has disqualified itself from playing a role in achieving peace” and that his Jerusalem decision was a “wake-up call” to Arab leaders.

“Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table, rather the US is outside the international consensus. Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table,” said Erekat. “There will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine.”

Erekat accused Trump of “blackmailing and punishing the Palestinian people for fighting and believing in their freedom and human rights per international law and UN resolutions.” He added that the US president “could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation.

“This is not a game for the people of Palestine. It is about our very existence that continues to be denied by Israel with full US support,” he said, adding that the Palestinians would continue to pursue statehood while Trump fuels “international anarchy.”

Abbas himself appeared to express doubt over the Jewish state’s right to exist in a speech earlier this month to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council in Ramallah.

During the speech Abbas portrayed Zionism as a European plot against the Palestinian people. He asserted that the State of Israel was formed as “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism,” to safeguard European interests.

The Palestinian leader also suggested the Jews of Europe chose to remain in their home countries during the Holocaust, rather than emigrate.

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