The Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the United States said Monday he had met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the day before, and was instructed to return to Washington, after a day of consultations over US President Donald Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In a Facebook post, Husam Zomlot said he had returned for a “warm meeting with the president.” He was instructed to return to Washington “after the holidays,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
The BBC quoted Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki as saying that talks between Zomlot and Abbas were in order to “set the decisions needed by the Palestinian leadership… regarding our relations with the US.”
The Palestinian response to Trump’s December 6 decision has been scathing, with Abbas rejecting any further US role in the peace process with Israel.
Abbas canceled a planned meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence, who was due to arrive earlier this month but postponed the trip to January, citing a need to attend a crucial Senate vote in Washington.
Meanwhile, Palestinian officials have refused meetings with any US political officials, including members of Trump’s peace team and chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt.
On Sunday night the Palestinian leader again slammed the US decision.
The city is “the eternal capital of the Palestinian people,” he said, according to Channel 10. “We are staying here and won’t leave until Palestine is liberated. East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state.”
Israeli TV reports last week said Abbas had told all PA officials that Trump is “a lost cause” and ordered the PA to sever all contacts with US diplomatic officials, including those at the US consulate in East Jerusalem responsible for Palestinian affairs.
According to Hadashot TV news, Abbas made clear to his aides that he is “not merely closing the door” on further dealings with the Trump administration, “but also throwing away the key.”
An unnamed US official told Hadashot the US recognizes that the Palestinians need a “cooling off” period after the Jerusalem declaration, that the US remains committed to achieving an accord, that it has no intention of seeking to impose one, but that it still hopes Abbas will come around.
Violence since Trump’s announcement has left 13 Palestinians dead, mostly in clashes with Israeli forces on the border with Gaza. Abbas’s Fatah party urged several “days of rage” and the Hamas terror group which rules Gaza, and which seeks to destroy Israel, urged a new intifada and encouraged thousands of Gaza to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza-Israel border.
On Sunday, while marking the 53rd anniversary of his Fatah movement, Abbas called Jerusalem “the eternal capital of the Palestinian people.”
In his December 6 declaration on Jerusalem, Trump stressed that the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city would still have to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
His speech, welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli leaders across most of the political spectrum, infuriated Abbas and regional leaders because it was perceived to be prejudging the fate of the disputed holy city.
The UN in a December 21 resolution rejected Trump’s move, in a vote approved by 128 votes to 9; the resolution had been vetoed by the US in the Security Council two days earlier.