In Rare Show of Unity, Palestinians Blast Trump’s ‘Conspiracy’

Gathering in Ramallah includes Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech in Ramallah, January 28, 2020.
AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed Donald Trump following the release of his peace plan alongside Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday: "Trump, Jerusalem is not for sale. Our rights are not for sale. Your conspiracy deal will not pass." 

Abbas said that in unveiling the peace plan, "Trump and Netanyahu declared the slap of the century, not the deal. And we will respond with slaps." He stressed that the position of the Palestinian leadership has not changed, "We say a thousand times over: No, no, no." Additionally, Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority will respond with immediate steps, including changes to the mission of the authority, but did not specify more. 

In a rare display of unity, members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are attending Abbas' speech in Ramallah. Abbas said he has spoken with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and that they agreed to move forward and stand together as a unified front. 

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"The deal was made according to policy set by Israel," Abbas said, rejecting the proposal for a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital, adding that "no Palestinian child, Muslim or Christian, will accept such a thing."

Palestinians take part in a protest ahead of the announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump of his Mideast peace plan, in Gaza City, January 28, 2020.
MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

He said Palestinians are willing to negotiate, together with other nations, but not with the United States alone. "There are still some in the U.S. who differentiate good from bad. There are Jewish organizations that reject the deal, like J Street," Abbas said, explaining that there are numerous international organizations, such as the International Criminal Court, that can protect Palestinian rights.

According to Palestinian officials, the Palestinian leadership was hoping that the unveiling of Trump's "Deal of the Century," which they consider a threat to Palestinian demands for statehood, would lead to renewed efforts at reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions.

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At the end of Abbas's remarks, several rallies went out to checkpoints in the area of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem. Dozens of young Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters. The Red Crescent reported 12 injuries.

Palestinian factions also called for protests in the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Trump's statements are going are cause rage and anger among Palestinians, who are going to oppose the conspiracy against their legitimate rights.

Despite the tense atmosphere in the Palestinian Authority, there are currently no signs of a violent escalation with Israel. Some took to social media to criticize the response of Abbas and Hamas to the peace plan, saying the statements were predictable and that the Palestinian president fails to offer a new path or strategy to bring about change.

Additionally, Palestinian activists called for exploiting the momentum created by the plan's publication and continuing to work to place the Palestinian issue on the international arena's agenda.

Earlier on Tuesday, a demonstration protesting the American plan was staged in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, with officials from both Hamas and the PLO in attendance, standing side-by-side in the first such display of unity in years.

Meanwhile, officials in Ramallah said the immediate Palestinian reaction to Trump's plan would not include any game-changing steps, such as revoking the Oslo Accords or discontinuing security cooperation with Israel – measures that would dissolve the Palestinian Authority. A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that Abbas would consult his counterparts in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt during the Arab League summit this weekend, in attempt to coordinate a unified response to the American plan with Arab states.

According to the official, the Palestinians are hoping that both Arab and European nations would side with Ramallah against the plan, and are also planning to raise the pressure on the United Nations and international institutions against Israel. “Admittedly, we're in very rough straits in the diplomatic sphere,” the official said. “The occupied Palestinian Authority is dealing with an aggressive American administration, a right-wing, pro-settler Israeli government and a divided Arab world. So the tools at our disposal are limited.”

Wary of serving the political interests of Netanyahu and Trump during their respective election seasons, the Palestinians weren't planning to stage mass protests or escalate violent actions against Israel in the near future. “We'll wait at least until the Israeli election to see where the wind blows,” the official said. Abbas is expected to call for popular demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza as early as Tuesday night, but these aren't likely to derail the political agenda.