Palestinian Delegation to Travel to U.S., May Meet Trump Officials

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas during a visit to Cairo in May, 2016.
PA President Abbas in Cairo, May 2016. The PA seems to be convinced that the Quartet report was meant to scuttle the French peace initiative. Credit: Amr Nabil/AP

Senior Palestinian officials will travel to Washington next week for meetings at the State Department, Haaretz has learned.

Officials in Ramallah expect to meet with senior Republicans as well. It is as yet unclear whether the delegation will meet with figures from the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, but sources in Ramallah do not disregard the possibility.

Over the coming month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will focus on the diplomatic issue vis-à-vis Israel, ahead of the international peace conference in Paris and the submission of a new Palestinian resolution to the UN Security Council.   

The Palestinian delegation will include Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator, Husam Zomlot, Abbas' strategic adviser and recently appointed ambassador to Washington, Nasser al-Qudwa, Fatah's intended foreign relations chief, and Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Executive Committee.

According to a senior Palestinian official, the delegation will lay out its expectations for the outgoing U.S. administration and suss out the incoming administration's policies toward the conflict and the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, a senior official in Abbas' office told Haaretz that the French government has officially invited the Palestinian president to meet with President Francois Hollande on December 22, as part of the the peace conference.

Earlier Wednesday it emerged that Israel rejected Hollande's invitation to convene a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas in Paris.

But the official in Abbas' office said that the Palestinian president will travel to Paris regardless of Netanyahu's arrival, and that he would meet the Israeli prime minister should the latter ultimately accept the invitation.

The Palestinian Authority has welcomed the Palestinian decision to hold the peace conference despite Israel's objections. Officials in the PA expect the summit, which will be attended by dozens of foreign ministers, to bolster the Palestinian position in the international community and in its efforts in the UN.  

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