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PLO source denies Abbas plans to propose large land swap deal during Trump visit

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A source with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) close to the Negotiation Affairs Department vehemently denied allegations made on Saturday, which stated that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was planning on proposing a deal that would give up 6.5 percent of Palestinian lands in negotiations during U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit on Tuesday.

British online news agency Middle East Eye reported that a Palestinian official close to the PLO gave the company exclusive information regarding the negotiation proposal, which “appears to cement the vision of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert for a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement.”

Speaking to Mondoweiss, a source close to the PLO’s Negotiation Affairs Department said the allegations were ludicrous.

“Never in any border negotiations would we present any border modifications of that amount,” the source said. “Those are previous Israeli positions.”

In 2008, Olmert reportedly presented a deal, which Jerusalem Post called an “unprecedented Israeli offer to be tendered to a Palestinian leader.”

The land offer, which consisted of 6.3 percent of West Bank land, included the illegal Israeli settlements of Ariel, the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adumin bloc (including E1) and Gush Etzion.

In exchange, Olmert reportedly offered Abbas 5.8 percent of Israeli territory from regions off the north, south and southwest borders of the occupied West Bank. However, none of those 2008 offers ever came to fruition, and the largest land swap ever presented by the Palestinian side in negotiations was around 1.9 percent. The allegations that Abbas was considering a land swap which would give up 6.5 percent of West Bank land would be triple what has ever been reported, and could potentially cause major backlash from the Palestinian public.

Abbas met with U.S. President Trump for the first time during his trip to Washington D.C. in May. Israeli daily Haaretz at the time reported a similar story, writing that “Abbas and his staff showed Trump documents and maps from Israel’s talks with the Palestinians near the end of Olmert’s term, explaining the proposal to him,” however Haaretz did not cite the source of their information.

Palestinian prisoners were on their 17th day of hunger strike during Abbas’s visit to D.C., during which he made no public mention of the strike, angering Palestinians, who have been holding frequent solidarity campaigns with the prisoners since the strike’s launch.
On Sunday over 1500 Palestinians in Israeli jails were taking part in the strike, currently on its 35th day.  Leadership of the strike has called for a general strike across the occupied West Bank to take place on Monday, during which all businesses, schools and other institutions are expected to be closed in protest. On Tuesday the same leadership has called for a “Day of Rage,” in protest against Trump’s visit with Abbas and the possibility of renewed peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel under U.S. leadership.

While Israel has released a detailed schedule for Trump’s visit, the Palestinian Authority has not been so forthcoming on talking points or schedules for Trump’s planned visit with Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday.

In Saudi Arabia Sunday, during his first speech outside of the United States, Trump implied that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a religious issue, stating that “if these three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) can join, peace in this world is possible, including peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Trump’s visit to Israel will begin on Monday. On Tuesday morning he is scheduled to meet with Abbas, before returning to Israel for an event at 12 p.m., and according to Israel’s Government Press Office Trump’s visit will conclude on Tuesday at 4 p.m. with a farewell ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport.

Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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20 Responses

  1. pabelmont on May 21, 2017, 9:21 pm

    I think Abbas should tell USA/Israel that boundaries are all flexible in the sense that Palestine will gladly accept Israeli land within Israel-48; but not to give up one inch (including any and all settlements) of WB&G except for a trade of Israeli access to the Western Wall for a 4-lane highway between WB and G. After all, 22% of historic Palestine is not enough and Israel has demonstrated contempt for the sanctity of borders (the green line) by its settlement activity, so that it should be willing to give up a bit on the other side.

    This much is really in the nature of a speech to the world public, not a realistic proposal.

    He might also mention that the present apartheid-style one-state arrangement is not satisfactory and that he will demand full and unrestricted and undiscriminated-against citizenship in Israel for all Palestinians now living within historic Palestine on, say, May 15, 2018, if no other arrangement is earlier made. This too is mostly a suggestion for public diplomacy. But the world must see “results” from the last 50 years and a stand-up declaration of rights by Abbas would be a sort of “result”.

    Possibly embarrass USA/Israel for making 50 years of unfair demands (and of course settlement).

    • Maghlawatan on May 21, 2017, 11:17 pm

      ‘Abbas should go for broke and tell Trump he’ll swap the 22% including the Kotel and Hebron and the settlements for the 78%. The 22%:is easier to defend and has all the Jewish mystical stuff. It’s a bargain.

      • Atlantaiconoclast on May 22, 2017, 8:28 pm

        So true! The irony is that the West Bank is the only place in historic Palestine that is connected to ancient Jewish kingdoms.

  2. eljay on May 21, 2017, 9:59 pm

    … In Saudi Arabia Sunday, during his first speech outside of the United States, Trump implied that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a religious issue …

    He’s right: The conflict stems from the unjust and immoral belief that people who choose to hold the religion-based identity of Jewish are entitled to a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine.

    … “if these three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) can join, peace in this world is possible, including peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” …

    And then he’s wrong (again). Three faiths joining (whatever that means) has nothing to do with the real path to peace: The universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality. The U.S. needs to stop selectively defending evil and start consistently defending international laws and human rights.

  3. JosephA on May 21, 2017, 11:49 pm

    It’s amazing that this has gone on for so long. One state is far better than two states because Palestinians in their historic homeland could finally have the same rights as their overlords. Call the country Israel-Palestine or Palestine-Israel. I know, not fair to the indigenous Palestinians but you have to throw the modern Israelis a bone.

    • Abu Yusef on May 22, 2017, 11:48 am

      This would be a really wonderful thing, One State, but this would mean equal rights for all and I don’t think the Israeli’s are willing to give up their supremacy yet. I truly believe that they have been persecuted for so long, throughout history, that now that they are in a position of supremacy, they are intoxicated with the feeling of power.

      This type of feeling is not easily relinquished. There is only one reason the occupation continues. Free Land! Once the Israeli’s drop the pretense that this was a land without people for a people without land, only then could we consider living together as one family under the same roof! Inshallah this will happen!

      • Maghlawatan on May 23, 2017, 6:22 am

        The jinns are working hard for the collapse of the Israeli economy. I believe Israeli groupthink is a project of the jinns. Ma sha Allah.

    • festus on May 22, 2017, 6:50 pm

      No way the Israeli Jews would ever live with Palestinians as equals.

      • Mooser on May 22, 2017, 8:43 pm

        If one is used to privilege, equality appears to be an oppression.

      • Maghlawatan on May 23, 2017, 2:03 am

        Because their standard of living depends on apartheid. Peace would result in losses.

  4. Kay24 on May 22, 2017, 6:31 am

    Trump is naive thinking this conflict is easy to solve, many have tried to do so for decades, and have failed. The bottom line is, at the end the Palestinians who have already lost too much, will get the short end of the stick, and through desperation, forced to agree giving up a lot of the land. Ideally the stolen lands should be measured and the Palestinians compensated in some other way. It will always be seen as adding insult to injury any way you look.

  5. rensanceman on May 22, 2017, 1:53 pm

    The book “The Controversy of Zion” by Douglas Reed provides an explanation for the perception that the Israeli Lobby controls our government. During the fog of war (WW2), there was near unrestricted immigration to the U.S. Roosevelt discouraged questioning for Communist affiliations or other loyalty based questions which allowed a number of agitators to enter our country similar to the situation in Russia before the Revolution in 1917 when the Czar allowed the return of the subversives (e.g. Trotsky). The Plan during the WW2 era was to take control of the Executive branch (Morganthau, House, Frankfurter), the Civil service, and the media. The ADL was the enforcer so that any resistance to the Zionist agenda was dealt with swiftly and brutally. Today, evidence that Zionist dictate our M.E. foreign policy is evident as we see the Yinon Plan to fragment countries hostile to Israel ( 7 countries in 5 years). As the Bolsheviks took control of Russia, the same has happened in the U.S. Israel is using our country’s wealth and prestige to further its agenda which is not always in our best interests.The goal of the Zionists is recreate Greater Israel and it will not stop until that goal has been attained.

    • Mooser on May 22, 2017, 3:45 pm

      . “During the fog of war (WW2), there was near unrestricted immigration to the U.S…”

      A shocking tale, but it must be true if “Renseman” says so.

    • jon s on May 22, 2017, 3:51 pm

      Douglas Reed was a racist (white-supremacist) and virulently Anti-Semitic propagandist.
      Commenter “Rensaceman” spouts the same old Anti-Semitic garbage.

      • Mooser on May 22, 2017, 4:52 pm

        “Commenter “Rensaceman” spouts the same old Anti-Semitic garbage”

        Because Jews get a special exemption from all the consequences, even the rhetorical ones, of Zionism.

  6. Atlantaiconoclast on May 22, 2017, 8:22 pm

    One of the greatest successes of the Zionist propaganda machine is to conflate Islam, radical Islam in fact, with “Palestinians.” Just like they have Americans equating ISIS with Iran.

  7. Elizabeth Block on May 22, 2017, 10:21 pm

    I would hope that there is some level to which Abbas will not sink. Even if he did, or tried to, he couldn’t bring the Palestinian people along.

  8. shaun patrick on May 23, 2017, 12:35 am

    Nothing will ever change until Israel feels the pain of not changing however there is an old saying “if the God’s want to ruin a man they will give him everything he asks for” so Israel beware of what you ask for because you might get it.

  9. Ossinev on May 23, 2017, 7:07 am

    Now let me see this is how it will unfold. The arch collaborator Abbas now rapidly approaching Mugabe standard ditheritude will with the help of the new mega diplomacy star Kushner (such an incredible track record hasn`t he ) strike an amazing deal which will give Palestinians full “sovereignty ” over .0001% of the Occupied Territories henceforth referred to as “Area Z”. He will then give “his ” people the opportunity to vote to accept or reject the deal in a referendum. No wait a minute cancel that last bit he doesn`t do referendums or elections. On the plus side he will be recognised as President for life by Zioland and the US and the latter will probably fork out for a cute little Cessna as his very own Presidential jet so he and his cohorts can fly round the world and boast about the brave “peace” deal he has strived for and achieved from the comfort of his seven star hotels.

  10. Theo on May 23, 2017, 11:17 am

    Abbas has no authority to negotiate in the name of Palestina for anything, his elected position as Prime Minister expired two or three years ago! He refuses to call new elections, because he knows that he will lose and must give up his comfortable housing and income.

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