Abbas meets Egypt, Jordan leaders, looking for support

Palestinian leader trying to find relevancy and gain support before Joe Biden is sworn into office.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shuttled to meet the leaders of neighboring Jordan and Egypt in a bid to gain diplomatic support for the moribund two-state solution before the new U.S. administration takes office, Arab News reported Tuesday.

Struggling at home with an ongoing economic crisis and surging coronavirus cases, Abbas met Sunday with Jordan’s King Abdullah and flew to Cairo for talks on Monday with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Abbas is hoping to regain some momentum and relevance before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20. During his campaign, Biden said he hopes to resurrect the Middle East Peace Process, adding that he would reverse several decisions made by President Donald Trump by restoring U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinians and allowing them to reopen their Washington office.

Abbas met the King in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, then flew to Cairo and met Monday with Sisi, hoping to establish some unified backing for dealing with the Biden administration.

Jordan’s state-run Petra News Agency reported that Abbas and the monarch spoke about “the centrality of the Palestinian cause,” but the official statement issued after the meeting by the two leaders did not contain any mention of the Palestinians being the central focus of the region.

Asma Khader, a former Jordanian minister and government spokesperson, told Arab News that a unified position needed to be agreed on in dealing with Israel.

“It is important to show that there is a strong Jordanian, Palestinian, Egyptian coalition interested in a peaceful resolution and that they are the key to the stability and tranquility of the region,” Khader said.

The Palestinians are divided between Abbas and his Fatah Party based in Ramallah and the Iran-backed Hamas terror group that seized power in the Gaza Strip in a bloody 2007 military coup against Fatah. The PA leadership lost any say in policy by failing to engage with the Trump administration.

With the Palestinians refusing to stop payments to jailed terrorists, Trump cut off foreign aid and closed their Washington office, with Abbas responding by severing all ties.

More damaging to the Palestinian narrative, Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem – a move that opponents claimed would spark a new Middle East war but was met with only mild protests. This year, Trump helped broker the peace treaties that Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, shooting down the longstanding Palestinian demand that no Arab country would make a peace agreement with Israel before the Palestinians got their own state.

Marginalized and criticized by some Arab leaders, Abbas is trying to rebuild a relationship with the new U.S. government while facing growing criticism on the home front over his one-man rule and reputation for corruption.

After recently proposing new elections for Palestinian leadership, the first since 2006, Abbas is now moving to indefinitely put off a vote again, the Financial Times reported. This comes amid another failure to resolve differences with Hamas in a bid to form a unified Palestinian front.

Abbas is banking on Biden to follow through on his election promise to revive the peace process for a two-state solution, but Hamas remains firmly opposed to both peace with Israel and any agreement with Abbas’ Fatah Party that would reduce its power.

“It’s upsetting — you see your leaders sleeping with the enemy, while they keep promising elections and pretending to represent the will of the Palestinian people,” political activist Zaid Shuabi told the Times.

“This is unfair to our generation — they had their chance, they’ve been running this since the 1960s, and even now they control both our past and our present, but they don’t have the right to control our future,” Shuabi said.