Palestinian leader Abbas threatens to declare Palestinian state

Mahmoud Abbas wants U.S., Egyptian and Jordanian officials to demarcate the borders of ‘Palestine.”

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and the chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas are expected to soon meet for new negotiations.

At their upcoming meeting in Ramallah, Abbas and Gantz, will reportedly start the process of drawing the permanent borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This is according to what sources in the PA have told the Arabic newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat.

According to these sources, Abbas recently suggested that the U.S., Egypt and Jordan begin negotiations to demarcate the borders as a first step.

Abbas is expected to convey to Gantz once again his threat to take unilateral action on declaring an independent state and to make a case against Israel in the world court if Israel does not withdraw, within one year, from what he declares to be Palestinian territory. He made this same threat when speaking before the UN in September.

A senior official in the PA told TPS, “Economic peace does not keep pace with the PA’s deterioration or with the rate at which Hamas is rising in the region, with criticism of the Palestinian Authority or its status in various areas, such as Jenin, Hebron, or the refugee camps.”

He added, “Abbas and the Palestinian leadership as a whole believe that civilian and economic measures in the framework of efforts to build a training camp are not sufficient to prevent the rise of Hamas.”

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In addition to the Gantz-Abbas meeting, an American-Palestinian dialogue is expected to be held this week for the first time in five years, since before President Trump assumed office. It is designed to examine the ways to American aid and the development of the Palestinian economy.

The new dialogue is expected to review American aid to the PA and the development of the Palestinian economy. The first session of the renewed dialogue will take place on Tuesday. It will be held via video conference and the Palestinian delegation will be led by their Minister of Economy, Khaled Assili.

TPS has learned that the Palestinians are expected to ask the U.S. to stop Israel from deducting millions from its transfer of payments to the PA coffers, which Israel intends to deduct in response to the PA’s payments of money on behalf of conceited terrorists held in Israel.

A senior Palestinian Authority official, however, told TPS that the PA responded to a US request made a few months ago not to sever ties with the current Israeli government over the matter. This came in exchange for a promise that the United States would also act on the matter with Israel.

Another source in the PA confirmed this and said that the Americans have proposed to the Palestinians to reform the issue of salaries for security prisoners and that they see this as a critical step towards restoring relations between the parties.

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The new dialogue joins a series of recently announced measures, including the renewal of U.S. aid to UNRWA, the expansion of the USID agency’s operations, and the provision of $15 million in aid to Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem.

The parties are now expected to examine how the Palestinian Treasury can be supported, on a monthly basis.

Along with progress on economic issues, senior officials in Ramallah said that there is no chance of resuming the peace process in the near future and that American policy on the Palestinian issue has turned out to be a great disappointment for the PA, as it is limited to economic matters only.

Asharq al-Awsat also reports that countries in the region have made it clear to the Palestinians that the situation does not allow for the opening of a political process due to the composition of the current Israeli government, so the PA chairman decided to make threats if his position on “borders first” is not accepted.

Against the background of all this, the Central Council is expected to convene in January to discuss Abbas’ statement and his threat to withdraw from the Oslo Accords. A source in the PLO told TPS that the Central Council is pressuring the Executive Committee to implement decisions that have already been made regarding the withdrawal of recognition of Israel and even a withdrawal from the Oslo Accords and is demanding that Abbas not wait a year.

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However, it is clear to the members of the Central Council that Abbas is not expected to approve the decision that has been made time and time again in the Executive Committee in recent years.

Meanwhile, criticism of Abbas is also growing in Fatah. A senior member of the organization told TPS, “Abu Mazen has failed in foreign affairs as much as he has failed in internal affairs and that he is left without pressure on Israel except for the threat of withdrawal from the Oslo Accords.”

According to this source, Abbas had to officially announce that the non-opening of the American consulate in Jerusalem is tantamount to acknowledging that the United States has given up on a two-state solution and therefore the Palestinians are also giving up on it.

He added, however, that the United States was determined to open the consulate, but would do so only after the end of the discussion on the issue of the Iranian nuclear deal, since, by definition, “the U.S. does not want to stretch the rope too much with the Israeli government on two significant issues at once.”