Abbas to Ask EU Foreign Ministries to Recognize Palestine Within 1967 Borders

The Palestinian Authority is pushing public protest in the West Bank in response to Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and amid U.S. threats to cut aid to refugee aid agency

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks in Istanbul, December 13, 2017
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks in Istanbul, December 13, 2017Credit: Emrah Gurel/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the EU foreign ministers to work with their respective governments to recognize Palestine within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, said a source close to him.

The source added that “Trump and his team are working together with the Israelis to bury the two-state solution and if Europe still wants this solution, they will have to move from words to actions, and the most essential action is recognizing the state in the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Otherwise everything will just be words and not binding for anyone."

Abbas will meet with the EU foreign ministers on January 22 in Brussels.

On Saturday, six Arab foreign ministers met in Amman to follow up on earlier decisions taken by the Arab League to counter U.S. President Donald Trump’s move in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision that overturned decades of U.S. policy on the Middle East.

“We will confront the decision by seeking a [UN] resolution, an international one, to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital,” said Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

In the meantime, the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement in particular are urging Palestinians to continue protesting ahead of the convention of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council next week. The body includes all Palestinian groups whose role is to make recommendations to the PLO executive committee.

Fatah issued a call to the public on Saturday not to silence the popular protests that began following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It especially encouraged those living in the West Bank to take to the streets and march toward checkpoints on Tuesday and to hold mass prayers on Friday.

A senior Palestinian official and a member of the PLO executive committee told Haaretz that the Palestinians are pushing for continued protests not just over Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem but also because of the threat to cut funding to the PA and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, with the goal of keeping the Palestinian issue on the international agenda. The official said the public was also being urged to continue protesting ahead of Abbas’ upcoming meeting with the European Union foreign ministers.

The Palestinian position was backed yesterday by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which consists of representatives of Jordan, Egypt, the PA, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. The Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said that the position of the foreign ministers is clear: There will be no stability in the region without recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

Meanwhile, Abbas’ bureau has denied that it received messages from Hamas that the latter is willing to give up its weapons and join PLO institutions. Two members of the PLO executive committee told Haaretz that the issue was not discussed and no official overtures from Hamas had been received. “Hamas has made clear that as long as the occupation continues there is nothing to discuss regarding the weapons and so the issue has not been discussed so far at any level,” one of the members said.

The London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Friday that Hamas is willing to place its military wing under PLO authority and join the organization in order to become part of the framework of the Palestinian state. According to the report, based on sources in the Gaza Strip, in recent weeks Hamas has been conveying messages in this spirit to Abbas in light of the freeze in the reconciliation process between Hamas and the PA.

A Palestinian official affiliated with Hamas in Gaza said that senior members of the organization – first and foremost the Hamas leader there, Yahya Sinwar – are adamant about not continuing the rift and are prepared to take additional steps toward reconciliation. However, Hamas is insisting on a full partnership. The group has made the demand to join the PLO, but Abbas has not been quick to accept it out of fear of a Hamas takeover. Moreover, Abbas wants Hamas recognize all agreements signed with Israel, including the Oslo Accords.

Hamas still has to decide whether to take part in the meeting of the PLO Central Council next week in Ramallah. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad confirmed that they received an invitation but said they have not yet decided if they will participate and to what extent. The secretary general of the PLO executive committee, Saeb Erekat, said over the weekend that the representatives will recommend a series of steps that will dictate the Palestinian agenda for the near future.

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