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Abbas confirms Trump tried to sell Abu Dis as Palestinian capital, in ‘Oslo is dead’ speech

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In a fiery two-hour speech on Sunday where Mahmoud Abbas unloaded on the Trump administration, Israel and Arab partners, the Palestinian president confirmed a report published more than a month ago about back channel peace talks where the U.S. pitched, along with Saudi Arabia, Palestinians should accept the West Bank town of Abu Dis as its future capital.

Addressing the report for the first time over the weekend, Abbas scoffed to his senior officials, “What would you want if Jerusalem were to be lost? Would you want to make a state with Abu Dis as its capital?” He added, “That’s what they are offering us now. Abu Dis.”

Until this breakthrough, little was verified about the particulars of what Trump’s team tasked with negotiations had formulated, other than the plan would be comprehensive and likely include input from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. When Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, alarm bells rang in Ramallah as to whether the administration still sought Palestinian statehood.

Abu Dis is an overpopulated town separated from Jerusalem by Israel’s wall. It is locally known for being an urban area with poor infrastructure, no police presence, and hub for black market trade.

On Monday senior Palestinian officials followed up by passing a series of measures that at face value signify the end to the Oslo Accords peace process that began over two decades ago.

The PLO Central Council declared the Oslo agreements with Israel “no longer stand,” approved an end to security coordination with Israel (which has been announced a few times in the past with limited to no change in the security relationship), and suspended Palestinian recognition of Israel “until it recognizes the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders and revokes the decision to annex East Jerusalem and expand and build settlements.”

Yet, like Abbas’ speech the day before these measure are non-binding. In the Palestinian system of government where the legislature is defunct, the PLO Central Council remains the highest lawmaking body, however, resolutions need approval from President Abbas before they can go into effect. In the past the Central Council has called for similar sweeping changes to the Palestinians’ relationship with Israel, only to never be implemented.

This pattern could repeat itself again, but that does not negate that the Palestinians are increasingly openly displaying their dissatisfaction with the U.S. as an arbitrator to peace.

‘The deal of the century is the slap of the century’

Sunday’s speech showed Abbas is cornered, lacking concrete political actions to keep his agenda afloat. Abbas railed against Trump for biasing peace talks in favor of Israel, “The deal of the century is the slap of the century.”

“We will not accept for the U.S. to be a mediator, because after what they have done to us — a believer shall not be stung twice in the same place,” he said. 

Speaking of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Abbas called him “an offensive human being.” Friedman is a former bankruptcy lawyer for Trump who was brought into the administration with a heated Senate confirmation hearing over his longstanding financial support to West Bank settlements.  “I will not agree to meet with him anywhere. They requested that I meet him and I refused,” Abbas said of Friedman

Turning his frustrations to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Abbas continued, “Nikki Haley too. She threatens to hit people who hurt Israel with the heel of her shoe, and the response to her speech will be harsher.”

At one point Abbas stated Arab leaders could “go to hell.”

When discussing Israel, Abbas ramped up his rhetoric calling it a “colonialist project that has nothing to do with Jews.”

“They wanted to bring Jews here from Europe to maintain European interests in the region. They asked Holland, which had the largest navy in the world, to transfer the Jews,” Abbas said, although he stopped short of announcing any policy changes towards Israel. Abbas concluded his talk by re-affirming his position for a two-state solution. He did not officially sever ties with the U.S. In fact, on a policy level there have been no changes from the Palestinians since the Sunday speech, even so, Israel leaders indicated the talk was a turning point.

Israeli response

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video to social media from India where he is on a diplomatic trip: 

“I heard what Abu Mazen said. He has revealed the truth. He has torn off the mask and shown to the public the simple truth that I have been working to instill for many long years: The root of the conflict between us and the Palestinians is their steadfast refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any borders whatsoever.”

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin also expressed disappointment:

“What we heard yesterday from Mahmoud Abbas, was terrible. He returned back to the ideas he expressed decades ago, when they were no less terrible. To say Israel is the result of a Western conspiracy to settle Jews in land belonging to Arab populations? To say that that the Jewish people has no connection with the land of Israel? He forgot many things, and said exactly the things that led him to be accused years ago of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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12 Responses

  1. amigo on January 16, 2018, 3:08 pm

    Abbas should wise up.He should send the keys to the occupation to Netanyahu by special delivery and form a commitee to prepare his people for the battle for equal rights in a Bi National State.

    That,s if he can manage to drag himself away from the comfortable life he leads doing Israel,s dirty work for them.He must have a pretty substantial retirement fund stashed away after so many years in the service of the Rogue Apartheid entity.

    Bye the way , wasn,t Arafat also offered Abu Dis as a Capital , which he refused.

  2. HarryLaw on January 17, 2018, 6:17 am

    “At one point Abbas stated Arab leaders could “go to hell.” Does that mean the defenceless Palestinians are on their own? South African Aparteid was only ended with the support of all African frontline states. Of course what Abbas means by Arab states are the Saudi and other GCC countries and Egypt, Dictatorships who are no more than puppets to US/Israeli designs in the region. What has Abbas to say about the Arab ‘arc of resistance’ Syria, Lebanon, Iraq plus the non Arab Iranians who are committed to liberating the Palestinians. The PLO’s statements are well meaning but all subject to President Abbas’ veto, which he wields like those he wishes “can go to hell”. The Palestinian’s situation is so weak they must find unity between the PA and Hamas, and forge a relationship and a common plan of action with the ‘arc of resistance’. Otherwise they will be forced [by economic and military means] into complying with US/Israeli dictats.

  3. Ossinev on January 17, 2018, 6:50 am

    Abbas sounds like a spoilt child who finally realises that his toy is definitely being taken away from him and is throwing a hissy fit. 1SS solution here we come with or without him.Stage 1 = full frontal Apartheid Zioland. Stage 2 = a proper multi racial,multi religion state with equal rights for all.
    Abbas + the other Zio stooges = goodbye and good riddance.

  4. annie on January 17, 2018, 7:14 am

    has everyone heard trump cut UNWRA funds today. instead of the usual 350mil they are giving only 60mil. nikki haley, barking dog of israel, wanted to give 0. trump thinks he can force palestinians to “negotiate”.

    drastic suffering for refugees, but i think the time to cut the cord of US involvement is long past due. time for the international community, who has ushered along this disaster for decades, to step up to the plate.

  5. HarryLaw on January 17, 2018, 10:58 am

    Why is the aid being suspended?
    “This is not aimed at punishing” anyone, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, adding that it was due to a US desire to see reforms at the agency.
    The $65m is being withheld “for future consideration”, a US official told Reuters news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    “It is time other countries, some of them quite wealthy, step in and do their part to advance regional security and stability,” the official added.
    The decision comes two weeks after President Trump’s complaint that America receives “no appreciation or respect” in return for its aid.
    So you see the US did not receive any appreciation or respect for its decision on Jerusalem.

  6. James Canning on January 17, 2018, 12:57 pm

    Does Trump expect the Palestinians to accept giant outdoor prisons in the occupied West Bank, as their state?

  7. on January 18, 2018, 12:33 am

    Saudis are showing their true Zio-cookies. Compatriots like NYT Thomas Friedman are now providing cover for the new House of Saud Bad Boy, affectionately referred to by his initials, MBS. Just a regular guy with great big reformist ideas – Friedman would like us all to believe in MBS and why wouldn’t we given its Friedman asking.

    there seems to be a new axis of evil being formed, another unholy alliance, some more strange bedfellows ………….got any others to add perhaps in latin?

  8. Peter in SF on January 20, 2018, 5:39 pm

    Can anyone direct us to an English translation of the speech? The only one I can find is by Memri, and it isn’t even the whole speech.

  9. Talkback on January 21, 2018, 4:58 am

    Rivlin: “To say Israel is the result of a Western conspiracy to settle Jews in land belonging to Arab populations? To say that that the Jewish people has no connection with the land of Israel?”

    Rivlin twisted Abbas words (what a surprise). That’s what Abbas said according to MEMRI (which was founded by a former Israeli military intelligence officer):

    Abbas: “The functional nature of Israel means that it was evoked by colonialism in order to fulfill a specific function, and thus it constitutes a colonialist enterprise that has nothing to do with Judaism.”

    Abbas simply claimed that Zionist settler colonialism had nothing to do with Judaism, but this was a Nonjewish imperial enterprise.

    And Abbas didn’t say: “They wanted to bring Jews here from Europe to maintain European interests in the region. They asked Holland, which had the largest navy in the world, to transfer the Jews,”

    He said according to MEMRI: “It did not begin with the Balfour Declaration. … It began in 1653, when Cromwell ruled Britain. Cromwell staged a coup against the king and became the head of a republic in 1653. This was 300 years prior to the Balfour Declaration. He came up with the idea of transferring the Jews from Europe to the Middle East, to this region, because they wanted this region to become an advanced post to protect the interests and the convoys coming from Europe to the East. This is a well-known story, and there’s no need to repeat it – the East India Company and all that… He asked Holland, which owned the largest fleet in the world, to transfer the Jews, but the project was unsuccessful.”

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