Abbas Rejects Trump's Plan for Gaza: An Attempt to Divide Palestinians

Haaretz reported that Trump envoys will ask Qatar and Saudi Arabia to invest up to $1b to help rehabilitate Gaza during visit to region this week

File - In this Jan. 14, 2018, file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Saeb Erekat, a top aide said Monday, May 21, 2018, that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is alert and making a swift recovery after being hospitalized with a fever over the weekend and should be released within days. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)
Majdi Mohammed/AP

The Palestinian leadership rejects U.S. President Donald Trump's administration's plan to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip, because they believe it is intended to create a diplomatic rift between Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.

The statement issued by Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, accused the U.S. administration of working with Israel to separate Gaza from the West Bank under the guise of “humanitarian aid or rehabilitation,” with the goal of destroying the Palestinian battle to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state. The Palestinians added that Washington seeks to turn Gaza into a humanitarian issue rather than a political one.

To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz

The statement was issued in response to Haaretz’s report on Sunday that the administration is seeking to rehabilitate Gaza with donations from the Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Another spur was the fact that U.S. envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt plan to visit the region in the coming days to discuss the administration’s peace plan.

“The Palestinian leadership warns the countries of the region against cooperating with a move whose goal is to perpetuate the separation between Gaza and the West Bank and lead to concessions on Jerusalem and the holy sites,” the statement said.

Abbas’ position, it continued, “is clear. There is no state in Gaza and there is no state without Gaza. On this issue, there’s a Palestinian, Arab and international consensus, and we’re confident that the strength of the Palestinian people will thwart all the plots whose goal is to liquidate the Palestinian issue, and that the Arab world and countries worldwide which support the battle for freedom and liberty will cooperate with the Palestinian people on this issue.”

>> Trump administration will ask Gulf states to invest up to $1 billion in Gaza economy <<

The Palestinian leadership has sent similar messages directly to the countries the U.S. envoys plan to visit, in particular Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Abbas may even send his own envoy to those states, as well as to Egypt and Jordan, to underscore his position.

One Palestinian official said it’s clear the Trump administration is seeking a plan along the lines once proposed by Giora Eiland, a former chairman of Israel’s National Security Council. He described Eiland’s proposal as making Gaza the basis of the Palestinian state, with a port and airport in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, while giving the West Bank expanded civilian powers but not security control.

“The Palestinian leadership rejected this plan out of hand at the time and the Arab states also won’t agree to this under any circumstances,” he said.

>> Top U.S. officials to Haaretz: Peace plan will be basis for talks, not 'take it or leave it' document ■ Palestinians to U.S.: No 'deal of the century' if Jerusalem not addressed

The Trump administration is trying to convince the Arab monarchies in the Gulf to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in economic projects in the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to calm the security situation there and generate momentum before the White House presents its Middle East peace plan.

According to Israeli and Arab sources, the idea will be raised when Kushner and Greenblatt who will speak this week with the leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

According to these sources, Kushner and Greenblatt hope to secure funding from the Gulf states and the cooperation of Israel and Egypt in implementing the economic projects.

The White House declined to elaborate, telling Haaretz that the administration “won’t discuss specifics before the conversations have taken place.” Kushner and Greenblatt are heading to the Middle East this week for talks focusing on both Gaza and the administration’s upcoming peace plan.

According to the sources who spoke with Haaretz, among the issues Kushner and Greenblatt seek to tackle first is the energy supply for Gaza, which has suffered severe electricity shortages and disruptions in recent months.

“This is an issue that is urgent, and at the same time, can be dealt with relatively quickly,” said one of the sources, all of whom requested anonymity. “The Americans are counting on the Gulf states to help with the money necessary for solving it.”