U.S. Officials Reassured Palestinians Over Settlements and Jerusalem Embassy Move, Sources Say

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Director of Palestinian General Intelligence in the West Bank Majid Faraj (L) whispers to Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting where he requested to join 15 UN agencies.Credit: AFP

Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj returned to Ramallah Friday with messages of reassurance after a round of meetings in Washington with senior U.S. security and intelligence officials, according to Palestinian sources.

Haaretz was told that Faraj has already met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and updated him on the talks, which helped relieve some fears within the Palestinian leadership over U.S. policy on the two-state solution, the settlements in the West Bank and the possibility that the U.S. Embassy in Israel would be moved to Jerusalem.

A Palestinian security source said that while the meeting where held with intelligence officials, they dealt with diplomatic issues, mainly the consequences of possible moves by the Trump administration in the Palestinian arena and the Middle East.

“The Americans needed to hear that giving a free hand to Israel regarding construction in the settlements and measures as relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will strengthen the Israeli right, but would also weaken the Palestinian Authority until its collapse,” the source said. Such measures, he added, would “also harm other countries, like Jordan and Egypt.”

From the Palestinians' point of view, the meeting between Faraj and the American officials is the first attempt to break the ice after an initial period of uncertainty following the election of President Donald Trump. 

The Palestinian government believes that pressure levied against Trump from various sources including Jordanian King Abdullah II and Saudi King Salaman have had some effect on the Trump administration's views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The government in Ramallah is now waiting to observe the results of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit with U.S. President Donald Trump next week in Washington. Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders are still hoping that European action, particularly from France, will lead to a political process and possibly official recognition of a Palestinian state.

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