A Christmas Message delivered by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (or, as he refers to himself: “President of the State of Palestine”) officially rejected any involvement of the United States in the peace process with Israel, making the future of the PA’s relationship with the PA unclear.
Abbas recalled that “regretfully, the US has decided, against its obligations under International Law,” to recognize “Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
“This has been an insult to millions of people worldwide, and also to the city of Bethlehem,” Abbas said, suggesting that “Washington’s decision has encouraged the illegal disconnection between the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, both separated for the first time in over 2000 years of Christianity.”
He did not mention that since the inception of the Palestinian Authority, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dwindled down from being the majority in the city to about 8% – with Christians having been pushed out aggressively by their Muslim neighbors.
“The US decided to support Israel’s claims and rhetoric of an exclusive ‘Jewish capital,’ over the inclusion and respect that a city important to the three monotheistic religions should have,” Abbas claimed, ignoring the fact that when the holy city had been under Arab rule, from 1949 to 1967, Jews were completely banned from their holy sites.
“The US also ignored that East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Occupied State of Palestine,” Abbas said, ignoring the legal annexation of Jerusalem by Israel, and lying unabashedly about Jerusalem being “sn occupied city where church property and future is being threatened by the occupier and groups of Zionist fundamentalists, as it has been seen in the Jaffa Gate scandal.”
The scandal the chairman referred to was the sale of two properties previously owned by the Greek Orthodox Church to Israeli buyers. The Church later sued in civil court claiming the archbishop who had conducted the sale was corrupt—but at the time authorized to sell the property. The court suggested the Church in the future appoint less corrupt archbishops.
“It is because of this US decision to support illegality and the blatant violations of our rights, that we will not accept the US as the mediator in the Peace Process nor are we going to accept any plan from the US side,” Abbas reached the meat of his Christmas blessing. “The US chose to be biased. Their future plan for Palestine will not be based on the two-state solution on the 1967 border, nor will it be based on International Law or UN resolutions.”
In fact, the Trump administration’s plan looked like the nearest thing to a peace agreement Israel would have had to embrace, because it allowed for Israeli settlers to stay put and envisioned economic prosperity for PA Arabs. It’s no wonder Prime Minister Netanyahu cautioned his ministers to refrain from attacking the plan – hoping that the Arabs would be the ones to kill the plan, in their tradition of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
“While the US administration has decided to reward injustice and threaten others who do not support it, we will continue our path towards freedom and independence,” Abbas promised.
And so, once again, magical thinking wins over pragmatic political work in Ramallah, as yet another peace plan bites the dust. Happy holidays.