US President Donald Trump’s hardline approach to the Palestinians is similar to herding cows to slaughter, a top Palestinian official said Tuesday.
The comments came a day after the US leader welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington and ahead of the expected launch of Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“Today what is happening with us is what you call in the United States a cattle chute trap,” Muhammad Shtayeh, a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
“They bring the cattle in a yard with one single exit, with a man on a horse and a whip. And they keep pushing the cows into the trap. By the time every single cow gets through, it is shot in the head with an electric gun, then it goes in a belt to the slaughtering house, then we eat it as hamburger,” he said.
“With the Palestinians, what is happening is exactly the same.”
Shtayeh objected to Trump’s assertion that the Palestinians have walked away from peace negotiations, claiming that the administration has pushed the Palestinians away from any peace process by taking a series of steps in favor of Israel.
“The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,” Trump said as he sat alongside Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. “If they don’t, you don’t have peace. And that’s a possibility also.”
“When … President Trump says the Palestinians are running away from the negotiating table, which negotiating table?” Shtayeh told foreign journalists. “Since he came to power, there have been no negotiations whatsoever.”
He called for US “confidence-building steps” and an internationally sponsored peace process.
He ticked off a number of controversial Trump decisions, including December’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his freezing of tens of millions in dollars in funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, as evidence of a “systematic attempt” to squeeze them.
Trump bucked decades of US foreign policy last December by formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and setting in motion plans to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Earlier this month, the US said the move would take place to coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday.
On Monday during his meeting with Netanyahu, Trump said he might attend the opening of the embassy in May.
The Palestinians have been fuming over Trump’s move.
Both the Palestinians and Israel see Jerusalem as their capital and the US decision to move its Israeli embassy there prompted the Palestinians to say the White House could no longer be the primary mediator between the two sides.
Abbas and other Palestinian officials have refused to meet with members of the Trump administration since, including Vice President Mike Pence when he visited the region in January.
Despite its poor relations with the Palestinians, the White House is expected to present a proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace in the coming weeks.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.