U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint press conference in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, May 3, 2017. Bloomberg

Abbas: Trump's Team Offered Me to Establish a Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation

Palestinian President Abbas said he would agree to such an offer only if Israel is a part of the confederation

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump's peace team offered him a political plan based on forming a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.

According to Abbas, he told the administration that he would only agree to such a plan if Israel is part of the suggested confederation. 

Abbas spoke in Ramallah at a meeting with Israeli left-wing movement Peace Now and Israeli lawmakers. "I was asked if I believe in a federation with Jordan," Abbas said about a talk he held with Trump's aide and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. "I answered: Yes, I want a confederation with Jordan and Israel. I have asked the Israelis if they would agree to such an offer."

Abbas also said that the U.S. is "hostile towards the Palestinians and closing down the peace process. The U.S. wants to completely sabotage UNRWA."

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The Palestinian president did not detail the administrative implications of such a plan and what level of autonomy a Palestinian state would have under a Jordanian confederation. According to him, he completely rejected the offer as long as Israel is not mentioned as a party. 

In his meeting with Israeli lawmakers, Abbas expressed willingness to agree to a land-swap agreement, but did not clarify what that would entail in terms of a potential evacuation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. 

The Palestinian president also noted that he meets with Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman from time to time. 

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Over the past 19 months we have probed all relevant parties about many ideas and possibilities. The plan, when released, will reflect ideas that we think are realistic, fair and implementable that will enhance the lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people," Trump's Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt said. "We will not discuss any specific ideas or private conversations that may or may not have been had with leaders in the region.”

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told members of the American Jewish Congress that "there is no capacity to have peace with the Palestinians unless there's peace with all the Palestinians, including the million and a half in Gaza."

Friedman went on to clarify that this "means there should be ideally one government [for the Palestinians]… If you go around the PA and somehow try to restructure Gaza without them, you're giving a tremendous prize to Hamas… with all the failings of the PA if the choice is Hamas we pick the PA."

The U.S. ambassador reiterated, as he has publicly on several occasions in the past, that Trump's administration won't make Israel suffer negative consequences over the transfer of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Friedman also clarified that the only price President Trump is asking the two sides to pay is to demonstrate willingness to advance in peace talks.

Friedman also confirmed a recent statement by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton that the administration did not have an exact deadline for the unveiling of its peace plan, and that it will not be presented at the upcoming UN General Assembly session.

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