Palestinians Fire Back at Trump: No 'Deal of the Century' Without Jerusalem as Capital

PLO official responds to Trump, who said Israel would pay a 'higher price' in peace negotiations now that Jerusalem is 'off the table'

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A woman and a child dressed in traditional Palestinian dresses walk near the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem's Old City, August 21, 2018.
A woman and a child dressed in traditional Palestinian dresses walk near the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem's Old City, August 21, 2018.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The Palestine Liberation Organization condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that Israel will have to give something in return to the Palestinians now that Jerusalem is "off the table," calling it "meaningless."

Speaking at a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday, Trump said Israel would pay a "higher price" in peace negotiations with the Palestinians, who would "get something very good" in return. Trump didn't offer any details on what the Palestinians would "get" in return.

>> Trump: Israel Will 'Pay a Higher Price' for Jerusalem Embassy Move

Palestinian negotiator and PLO Executive secretary general Saeb Erekat said Wednesday that "there is no point in having a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem with the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Old City and the walls as part of the Palestinian capital."

Erekat said Trump, [National Security Adviser] Bolton and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu need to understand there will be no peace without a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem based on the 1967 borders.

"All those trying to spread the word among the Palestinian people through a port in Cyprus and easing the [Gaza] blockade need to understand they're cooperating with Netanyahu and Trump," he said.  

Ahmad Tamimi, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, said Trump's statements "are a continuation of U.S. policy, which is fully slanted in favor of Israel," the Palestinian Authority's news agency Wafa reported.

According to Tamimi, "Trump's speech is a testament to the administration's continued illusions regarding the possibility to implement the 'deal of the century' without Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

"We do not know what kind of negotiations Trump is talking about. Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is entrenched in the hearts of the Palestinian people and of the Arab and Muslim world. If he thinks he can remove Jerusalem from the negotiating table, he cannot remove it from those hearts," Tamimi said.

In his speech Tuesday, Trump had said: "We took it off the table. In past negotiations, they never got past Jerusalem."

Tamimi emphasized the official Palestinian position, as posited by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which insists on the total rejection of the "deal of the century" and of American policy on the solution to the conflict. "The American administration will not find one Palestinian who supports its position," he said.

Hamas also responded to Trump's statements, with senior Hamas figure Sami Abu Zuhri describing the remarks as a dangerously audacious. Abu Zuhri said the response to these remarks should be the cancellation of the PA's recognition of Israel, the severing of the security relationship with the administration and the cessation of the partnership and security coordination with Israel.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said at a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday that the administration is continuing its work on Trump's plan for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, noting however that no timetable has be set for announcing it. Bolton said there has been "a lot of progress in the region."

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