A senior Palestinian official who recently met with Western diplomats told Haaretz that information obtained by the Palestinians indicates that Israel is pressuring the Trump administration to publish its plan quickly. Based on what Palestinians have been able to learn about the plan so far, he added, the PA will reject it out of hand, enabling both Netanyahu and the U.S. administration to paint the Palestinians as peace rejectionists.
“We know Netanyahu is in distress, and he may call early elections due to Israel’s internal crisis. Therefore, it’s important that the diplomatic arena, especially relating to the Palestinians, not be on the agenda today, and that the Palestinians and Abu Mazen be depicted as rejectionists who bears the ‘no partner’ label, this time with American backing,” the official said, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by his nickname.
He added that the Palestinian Authority is relying on a counter reaction from Europe, both via a preliminary statement for a plan not based on a two-state solution outlined by the 1967 borders.
"The idea is that Europe will make it clear to the U.S. and Israel that you can't present a plan that fully adopts Netanyahu's stance and portray the Palestinians as rejectionists, so we're urging Europe to take swift action," said the official.
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White House spokesman Josh Raffel said in response: "It is unfortunate that some parties are seeking to prejudice people against our unfinished plan, which these sources have not seen. Nobody should be basing their reaction, public or private, on these reports."
He added "In the meantime, we remain hard at work on the real draft plan that will benefit both sides."
The Palestinian leadership still sees no reason to begin talks with the administration or hear about its peace plan. A lengthy document prepared by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, which was presented to the ruling Fatah party’s Revolutionary Council over the weekend, argued that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital represents the start of a new stage in American policy toward the peace process, which he termed the stage of dictates.
“Anyone who wants peace must accept the American dictate, and anyone who opposes this will be defined as a radical terrorist organization that must be fought,” Erekat wrote. “Moderation, in the eyes of this administration, is agreeing to the deal of the century, which constitutes a full and complete adoption of successive Israeli governments’ positions and the determination of facts on the ground by building in the colonialist settlements, expropriating land, expelling Palestinians, ethnic cleansing, house demolitions, assassinations, arrests and a continued policy of closure and suffocation.”
Aside from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Erekat listed several other elements of what he called the administration’s policy of dictates: its failure to embrace the two-state solution, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s refusal to term the West Bank occupied territory, the United States’ continued definition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a terrorist organization, its threat to close the PLO’s office in Washington, cuts in financial aid to the Palestinians, legislation to deduct the money the PA pays to Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel from this aid, and the decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 15 – the day Israel was founded in 1948, which Palestinians commemorate as their “nakba,” or catastrophe.
All this, Erekat wrote, proves the Palestinian leadership was right in saying Washington could no longer preside over the diplomatic process. Relations with the U.S. could be restored to what they once were only if the administration rescinded its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and canceled its definition of the PLO as a terrorist organization, but since neither is likely to happen, the PA must stick to its position that the U.S. can’t be accepted as the patron of the peace process, he added.
The document predicted that the American peace plan would call for a Palestinian state in temporary borders, consisting of noncontiguous territory amounting to only about 40 percent of the West Bank – the areas defined as Areas A and B in the Oslo Accords – plus the Gaza Strip, with a capital near Jerusalem. It would also let Israel annex 10 to 15 percent of the West Bank, station troops in the Jordan Valley and along the West Bank mountain ridge, and retain overall responsibility for the area’s security.
Aside from its anger at Washington, the PA is also disappointed with Europe. Though most European countries opposed Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, the PA says, they haven’t done anything practical to offset it, such as recognizing the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders.