Palestinians Praise Trump’s Delay of Embassy Relocation to Jerusalem

Officials downplay disagreement during president’s meeting with Palestinian leader Abbas

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after making statements to the press, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem
Evan Vucci/AP

Officials in the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed satisfaction with U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to postpone moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the decision a positive and important measure that promotes peace. According to Abu Rudeineh, the decision shows that the Trump administration was serious in its efforts to bring about peace and build bridges of trust after the summit in Riyadh. “We are ready to continue cooperating with President Trump and his administration to achieve a fair and sustainable peace,” he said.

In a statement issued after Trump signed the order delaying the embassy’s relocation by an additional six months, the Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to the United States, Hussam Zomlot, said the decision “gives peace a chance” and was “in line with the long-held U.S. policy and the international consensus.”

We are ready to start the consultation process with the U.S. administration. We are serious and genuine about achieving a just and lasting peace,” Zomlot’s statement said.

Meanwhile, reports continued to stream in about tension during last week’s meeting between Trump and Abbas in Bethlehem. The London-based Qatari news site The New Arab quoted anonymous sources close to Abbas as having told a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee on Tuesday that Trump was “angry” after Trump showed video clips in which Abbas admitted to “inciting against Israel.”

According to the report, Abbas told Trump his statements had been taken out of context and suggested that the U.S. president have the CIA examine the videos to find out how they were fabricated or manipulated to incriminate the Palestinians.

Abbas also reportedly told the PLO Executive Committee that negotiations with Israel were not being renewed for now, and that a joint U.S.-Palestinian forum was about to begin operations.

A PLO Executive Committee member who attended the meeting told Haaretz that the Qatari website’s description of the Trump-Abbas meeting did not reflect the subjects that were discussed. He said that the meeting focused on the issues and touched on several topics, as was previously reported. He said that Israel, in cooperation with a number of American advisers, was trying to divert attention from the main issues.