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Abbas: Trump’s Administration is in Chaos | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses reporters after a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Ramallah– Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that since President Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, he had held over 20 meetings with US officials, yet still had little idea what their plans for peace negotiations were.

Abbas told parliamentarians from Meretz party visiting Ramallah on Sunday that the entire Trump administration is in “chaos,” and indicated that the White House disarray was affecting peace efforts.

“I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” Abbas told the delegation.

He said that each time they reiterate their commitment to a two-state solution and the stop to settlement building, adding that he urged them to tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, but they refrain.

It is impossible to know what Trump and his team are planning, according to Abbas, and he doesn’t know to what extent this will be reflected in the results of the upcoming visit of the US delegation, part of Trump’s effort to restart the peace process.

Abbas’ comments came as Trump is set to send three top aides to the region in an attempt to relaunch peace efforts.

Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper had previously published reports about the Palestinian growing anger with the US administration.

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell will all head to the Middle East, according to the White House, and will begin a lengthy tour in the Middle East where they will meet leaders from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The US delegation is expected to pressure for the launch of real negotiations between Palestine and Israel and will also discuss the possibility of regional peace.

Last negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis were held in March 2014 after nine months of US-sponsored talks.

Palestinians relied on the new US president’s capabilities of sponsoring negotiations and they requested that they begin from where they reached with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert focusing on borders and that it has to be limited by a timetable with guarantees to end the occupation. They also want Israel to commit to stopping settlements and to release detainees.

But, after series of Palestinian-US negotiations, Palestinian officials realized that Washington is more biased to Israelis. A top official told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that this prompted Abbas to reject meeting US Envoy Greenblatt.

Abbas told the Israeli group that he intends to ask Kushner again to have the White House express its commitment to a two-state solution and to demand a halt to settlement construction.

Abbas noted that the Palestinian Authority recently approached Israel, offering to resume some kind of security cooperation, but Israel has not responded to the offer.

Security cooperation between the two states had been suspended following al-Aqsa Mosque crisis on July 21.

Despite the suspension in security coordination, Abbas instructed Palestinian security forces to increase surveillance of individuals who might be liable to carry out terrorist attacks on the Mount, and did so to prevent another clash that would turn the conflict into a religious one.

The president also said that Palestinian security forces briefed the Trump administration on all the steps they take in the war against terrorism.

Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Ahmed Majdalani said Monday that there is no meaning for any US effort unless it focused on the two-state solution and end of settlements establishment.

Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio, Majdalani said the US administration’s peace efforts focus on minor issues rather than the major ones and therefore there are no signs of progress in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

The top official explained that the efforts should focus on the main issue, and not on minor secondary ones, and that is how to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine based on international resolutions.

“There are no signs that the US delegation’s visit to Palestine scheduled for the end of the month is going to have any breakthrough in the peace process deadlocked since April 2015,” he told the Radio.

Majdalani warned that Palestinian cause is not a priority issue to the US administration which focuses its efforts on issues of China, Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that connections are stopped between both parties except in urgent or humanitarian cases.

Netanyahu aide told Reuters that the reported remarks are simply incorrect.

The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to elaborate, citing policy of not publishing details on security contacts with the Palestinians.