The Palestinian Authority said Sunday it was recalling its envoy to the United States for consultations in a move that follows US President Donald Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki decided to recall PLO envoy to Washington Husam Zomlot, official Palestinian news agency WAFA said, without providing further details.
The Palestinian response to Trump’s December 6 decision has been scathing, with PA President Mahmoud 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.
And Palestinian officials have refused meetings with any US political officials, including members of Trump’s peace team and chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt.
Israeli TV reports last week claimed Abbas has told all PA officials that Trump is “a lost cause” and has ordered the PA to sever all contacts with US diplomatic officials, including those of the US consulate in East Jerusalem responsible for Palestinian affairs.
According to Hadashot TV news, Abbas has 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 change his stance.
Violence since Trump’s announcement has left 13 Palestinians dead, with most killed in clashes with Israeli forces. Abbas’s Fatah party has urged several “days of rage” and the Hamas terror group which rules Gaza, and which seeks to destroy Israel, has 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.