PA says Kushner comments on peace reflect ‘ignorance of reality of the conflict’

PA says Kushner comments on peace reflect ‘ignorance of reality of the conflict’

Abbas spokesman rejects senior Trump adviser’s statements that administration’s punitive actions have increased chances of reaching accord

File: Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2017 (Flash90)
File: Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2017 (Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman on Friday slammed statements that Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to US president Donald Trump, made in an interview with an American newspaper, contending that they reflect “ignorance of the reality of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.”

Nabil Abu Rudeinah said in comments published on the official PA news site Wafa: “Peace will only come through a two-state solution, including East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, in accordance with legitimate international resolutions and Arab League summit decisions.”

In an interview published in The New York Times on Thursday, Kushner argued that measures the Trump administration has taken against the Palestinians have not lessened chances of achieving a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, but rather increased them.

He also asserted that the Trump administration’s moves eliminate “false realities” related to the Middle East peace process. 

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, attends a cabinet meeting at the White House on August 16, 2018. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

“There were too many false realities that were created — that people worship — that I think needed to be changed,” Kushner told the Times. “All we’re doing is dealing with things as we see them and not being scared out of doing the right thing. I think, as a result, you have a much higher chance of actually achieving a real peace.”

In December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiated a process to move the US Embassy in the Jewish state to the city. The embassy was formally moved to Jerusalem in May. 

In the past several weeks, the US administration has cut all US funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the UN body tasked with aiding Palestinian refugees, slashed more than $200 million dollars of American aid for projects and programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and ordered the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization representative office in Washington, DC.

Since Trump’s decisions on Jerusalem, Abbas has said the Palestinians will no longer work with a US-dominated peace process and called for the establishment of a multilaterally-mediated mechanism to replace it. Israel has long held that it will only cooperate with a US-led peace process. 

Palestinian school children chant slogans and raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US AID, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the West Bank on September 5, 2018. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

In his comments, Abu Rudeinah also stated that “the Palestinian people will not acquiesce to pressure, sanctions or policies of blackmail,” adding that “the American moves are proof of blind bias in favor of fake notions.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the US administration’s moves on Jerusalem in addition to its recent cuts in aid to the Palestinians and closure of the PLO office in the American capital.

“The US took the correct decision,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday, alluding to the US decision to close the PLO office. “Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace.”

Over the past several months, Trump administration officials have said they intend to present a plan to end the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Abbas recently has said a number of times that he would reject any American peace plan. However, he has also said at least once in the past several months that he would be willing to listen to a US peace proposal if Trump recognizes East Jerusalem as the capital of “the State of Palestine” and backs a two-state solution. 

“We will not listen to anything that comes [from the Trump administration], regardless of what it is, unless the two-state solution [is endorsed] and East Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of the State of Palestine,” Abbas said at a meeting of the Fatah Central Committee in April. “If that happens, we can talk about rest of the issues remaining on the table.”

Trump has said he has no preference between a two-state and one-state formula, but recently reportedly joked to Jordan’s King Abdullah that a single state of Israelis and Palestinians would end with “a prime minister named Mohammed.”

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