The Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council began its two-day meeting in Ramallah on Sunday evening, convened to discuss the ramifications of the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas, who leads the Palestinian Authority, and the PA’s leading Fatah faction, called the two-day meeting in order to form a strategy to deal with the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In his speech at the opening session, Abbas said Israel is a “colonial project that has nothing to do with the Jews.” He added, “Europeans wanted to bring the Jews here to preserve their interests in the region.”
As for the future of any direct final status talks, and the Oslo Accords that brought his predecessor a Nobel Peace Prize, both points were described as dead. Nevertheless, on the one hand Abbas spoke of ending all talks, and on the other hand turning to the international community for future mediation.
Beyond that, it is also an open secret that despite all the froth and fury about cutting off all contact with the Trump administration, Palestinian Authority officials have been careful nevertheless to maintain quiet back channel ties with the White House.
“I call on the Central Council to revise all the agreements signed between the PLO and Israel because Israel has brought these agreements to a dead end,” Abbas said, adding that “We are going to take this decision even though we know in advance what it will bring to us.
“Israel has ended the Oslo agreement,” he said, and therefore, the Central Council needs to think of “Where should we go from here?”
Abbas also recommended the Council rule out any role for the United States in mediating a peace solution with Israel after the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, lashing out at the U.S. for its “biased” position toward the Palestinian Authority.
“We will not accept what the U.S. is going to propose to us and will not accept its mediation after its Jerusalem crime, but we will accept only an international mediation in the peace process with a goal to end the occupation,” he said.
“We will engage in any serious peace talks under United Nations auspices to end the occupation,” Abbas added.
He also attacked U.S. President Donald Trump over his threat to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority if Ramallah does not come to the negotiating table.
“I see a tweet on Twitter,” said Abbas, ‘We will not give the Palestinians money because they refuse to negotiate.’ “May your house come to ruin,” he cursed Trump. “Where did you offer that to me? On the phone? On television?”
Abbas continued with his diatribe, insisting, “Jerusalem is our eternal capital, come what may. It is for this reason that we are gathered here: to defend it. We’re in a sensitive position. What can we compromise on later? The state itself? Abu Dis as capital? We’re done. Here we stay.
“We will not make the mistakes of the past – of 1948 and 1967 – again. Jerusalem and Al Aqsa, of which Mohammed spoke, are one of the holiest sites after Mecca and Medina.
“Jerusalem has been taken off the table with one swift tweet from Mr. Trump. Nevertheless, we are here to stay. We will not leave our villages. This is our land. We will take instructions from no one. We stick by our people, our land. We say to Trump, we will not accept his deal. The deal of the century has become the slap in the face of the century.”
Abbas also had bitter words for U.S. Ambasssador to Israel, David Friedman: “The current American Ambassador to Tel Aviv David Friedman says there’s no occupation. That Israel is building on its own land. He asked the State Department to refrain from using the word ‘occupation.’ They asked me to receive him. I said, ‘Him? No, I will not receive him. Not here, not in Amman and not in Washington…
“We will continue dialogue with the Israelis because it is useful. Some in the Israeli public are in favor of peace and some oppose it. I’ve always been a proponent for it, as far back as 1977 in the National Council’s meeting in Cairo. Who do we want peace with? Israel. Even if (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu isn’t.”
All member factions are attending the meeting with the exception of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both of which are backed by Iran, and neither of which are PLO members.
Speaking at the opening session, Salim Zanoun, president of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the highest legislative body, called for reconsidering the PLO recognition of Israel. He also called for an overall strategy to face the U.S. decision on Jerusalem and Israeli measures in the city, which the Palestinian Authority insists is going to be the capital of its future independent state.