Palestinians Dismiss Reports of Yelling During Trump-Abbas Meeting as pro-Israel Propaganda

Officials in Ramallah say Israel is disseminating fake videos and propaganda meant to discredit the Palestinian president

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U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. May 23, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. May 23, 2017Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Associates close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas say that reports of yelling and tension during his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump are an attempt by pro-Israel advisers in the U.S. administration to prevent the government from getting close to the Palestinian leadership.

A senior Palestinian figure privy to the content of the meeting told Haaretz that the conversation was practical and there was a feeling that Trump arrived with great drive to push peace forward. "It's no secret that Trump has a group of advisers around him whose main goal is to serve Israel. Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman are also Netanyahu's advisers, not just Trump's, so our feeling is that they will try to prevent any move that harms Israel's position, and we're certain that the goal of these kind of reports is to serve this interest."

According to the same source, the issue of incitement and salary payments to Palestinian prisoners was raised in Washington and it was made clear to the U.S. administration that these are minor issues that Netanyahu uses "to avoid dealing with the main issues."

According to the source, Trump was told that payments to prisoners were an internal Palestinian issue and that "The moment the occupation ends, there won't be incitement. Netanyahu expects us to fall in love with Israelis despite the occupation, and that's not going to happen." The source also noted that the Palestinians are willing to renew the activities of the tripartite committee of the U.S., Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while Israel opposes it. 

The source vehemently rejected the reports that there was yelling and rebukes from Trump's side. "The Israelis, through American sources, are trying to sell these goods and there are those around Trump who adopt this approach. On the other hand, there are those in the government, especially in the National Security Council the State Department who think differently. There is a power struggle here for the president's ear and of course the Palestinians aren't in the best position. We don't have the money of Saudi Arabia and we don't have the Zionist lobby, but we will continue to present our position. "

Officials in Ramallah are convinced that since the meeting in Washington, there has been an Israeli effort in coordination with the U.S. administration to undermine Abbas and find any reason to discredit his trustworthiness, including the creation of videos that allegedly prove that he participates in incitement. "We know about a video made in the prime minister's office and everyone who arrives there or plans to visit Ramallah is exposed to this video," a Palestinian official close to Abbas' bureau said. 

"The Israeli propaganda machine has been working overtime, including after the attack in Manchester, when Netanyahu tried to link this with the national Palestinian struggle," he said. "We know exactly what atmosphere we're in and there aren't many expectations in the meantime. The president says he is aiming for an arrangement and naturally we will cooperate with it."

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