The Palestinian Authority on Friday dismissed US claims that President Mahmoud Abbas was refusing to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
On Thursday, Channel 10 quoted senior US officials as saying that the White House was considering presenting US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan even if the crisis with the PA continues and Abbas refuses to come to the negotiating table.
Relations between the US administration and the PA have been strained since Trump’s December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Abbas and senior PA officials have since stated that the US was no longer qualified to play any role in a Middle East peace process because of its “bias” in favor of Israel, and the PA has refused all substantive contacts with the Trump administration.
The Palestinians’ strong and swift reaction to Thursday’s report is seen as yet another sign of mounting tensions between the PA leadership and the Trump administration.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesperson for the PA Presidency, denounced the reported statements by the US officials as “irresponsible” and “outrageous incitement.”
Abu Rudaineh said that the PA did not reject any offer to engage in negotiations aimed at implementing the two-state solution. “We have not rejected negotiations in principle,” he added.
“We remain committed to serious negotiations as a course to the establishment of the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, based on the 1967 borders.”
The spokesperson noted that Abbas had made his position clear on the issue of negotiations with Israel in his recent address before the Palestinian Central Council in Ramallah and in his last meeting with European Union foreign ministers in Brussels.
“Serious negotiations require, above all, that the other party (Israel) believe in the two-state solution and negotiations, but not in dictations,” Abu Rudaineh said.
“When we called for a new international mechanism to sponsor the negotiations, this was not a departure from our commitment to negotiations as a means to achieve peace between us and the Israelis.”
Yusef Al-Mahmoud, spokesperson for the PA government, also lashed out at the “misleading” statements attributed to the unnamed senior US officials.
“This is a clear and deliberate forgery of the Palestinian leadership’s vision and the Palestinian national struggle,” Al-Mahmoud said. “It falls within the context of the unacceptable incitement.”
Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, he added, “are keen on pursuing the path of negotiations and dialogue to lay down the foundations for the political process and to consolidate the real peace process.”
According to the PA government spokesperson, the Palestinians’ national vision “promotes a just solution through negotiations that would restore all the rights of our people, first and foremost the right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence.”