US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said the Trump administration is committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We want to see the Palestinians in their own state with their own government, hopefully a democratic government, and one that thrives economically alongside Israel,” O’Brien told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in an interview broadcast Thursday.
He said the Palestinians had a “unique opportunity” to reach a peace agreement with Israel under US President Donald Trump and that “he’d love to get a great deal done” for them.
“And we’ve got a lot of credibility with the negotiations to work with our Israeli friends to make sure that happens. And so this is an opportunity for the Palestinians to come to the table and get a great deal for themselves,” he said.
O’Brien was speaking after visiting Israel and the United Arab Emirates this week to follow up on the US-brokered agreement between the countries to normalize diplomatic ties. As part of the normalization deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to shelve his campaign pledge to annex the 30 percent of the West Bank slated for Israel under Trump’s peace plan.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected the US peace proposal, which provides for the conditional establishment of a Palestinian state on the rest of the West Bank territory and in the Gaza Strip, with some additional territory inside Israel. He has also railed at the UAE for agreeing to normalize ties with Israel before a Palestinian state is established.
“The problem is with some of this old leadership that’s hidebound and tied to the old PLO, you know, Marxist-Leninist revolutionary struggle mentality of the ’50s and ’60s,” O’Brien said of Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.
He added: “What we need to do is have a new generation of Palestinian leaders, younger Palestinians that want a great future for themselves alongside their other Arab brethren and their Israeli neighbors, and it could be just a fantastic future for the Palestinians.”
In the wake of the UAE deal, O’Brien said he believed other Muslim countries that don’t have ties with Israel could agree to normalize relations in the coming months or years, undercutting efforts to boycott the Jewish state.
“I think it’s going to smash these efforts of real radicals that want to delegitimize the state of Israel and tell Jews that they’re not allowed to return to their ancient homeland,” he said.
O’Brien’s comments came as Abbas reiterated his opposition to the Trump peace plan in a virtual meeting that included the leaders of terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Speaking Thursday in Ramallah, Abbas castigated the UAE’s decision to normalize ties with Israel as “a poisoned dagger.” He called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers to condemn the decision.
Such a meeting seems unlikely, however, as some Arab countries have praised the agreement.
“We are the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. We are those who speak for the Palestinians… Either you help us, or stand aside,” Abbas said.
He also claimed it was the PA that thwarted Netanyahu’s declared plan to annex West Bank lands.
“It was us who have stopped annexation to this point,” he said.