Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired back at U.S. President Donald Trump who said Jerusalem was taken off the negotiating table, with a spokesman for the Palestinian leader saying him that if Jerusalem is off the table then the U.S. no longer has a seat at that table.
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Trump met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday. Ahead of their meeting, Trump said that that the U.S. had taken Jerusalem off the negotiating table and seemed to threaten Palestinians to return to peace talk or run the risk of losing financial support from the U.S.
"Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table, rather the U.S. is outside the international consensus," said Saeb Erekat, the former Palestinian chief peace negotiator.
"Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table. The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine," Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
"Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation," he added.
'Money on the table'
Trump claimed that the Palestinians "disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands.
"That money is on the table. That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace" with Israel, he said.
Trump's statement that Jerusalem is "off the table" contradicts what he himself said and what his vice president recently told Israelis: that the U.S. decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital will not influence the final status of its borders.
The U.S. president also said that he has "a proposal for peace," adding that "We have a great proposal for the Palestinians, it covers a lot of the things we discussed over the years."
However, Trump then noted that the U.S. had taken the issue of Jerusalem out of the talks. "You could never get past Jerusalem, we got it off the table," he said. "I hope the Palestinians want to make peace." He then added: "We give them tremendous amounts. That money is on the table. Why should we do that, if they’re doing nothing for us."
The meeting between the heads of state took place just 72 hours after Netanyahu met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Jerusalem, who promised that the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to an existing consular office in Jerusalem by the end of 2019.