Abbas calls on Palestinian Americans to engage with AIPAC, Republicans

The Palestinian leader also endorsed maintaining outreach with Likud and the GOP party. 

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Palestinian Americans to engage with the Zionist American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby, and claimed that he has always maintained dialogue with Republicans as well as with the right wing Likud, the largest party in Israel’s Knesset.

The Obama administration actively discouraged him from speaking with AIPAC during attempts to arrive at a peace proposal, Abbas said.

According to a Times of Israel report, Abbas claimed that George Mitchell, the former Maine senator who was the U.S. special envoy for the Middle East peace process, “begged” him on several occasions not to meet with the lobby.

Abbas was told by Mitchell that AIPAC was full of “animals” and that Obama “went crazy” when he found out about his plan to meet with members of the lobby, and warned the PA president that he’d “regret” such a meeting.

Mitchell strongly denied that any conversation of the kind took place.

“President Abbas’s recollection is incorrect as to me. I don’t know about his conversations with others, but I can state categorically that there never was any such conversation with me. Furthermore, I have never used the language about AIPAC he cites, with him or anyone else,” Mitchell told the Times of Israel.

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Abbas urged the Palestinian Americans to “talk to everyone in order to arrive at your goal.”

“You must not exclude anyone … including the Zionist lobby,” Abbas said. “There are many people who say that the Zionist lobby is the most dangerous. No! We must speak to the Zionist lobby.”

He said that speaking to the leftwing J Street was “nice,” but it was just as important to meet with people on the other side.

“We are speaking to the entire American community. It never came across our mind that we’d deal with a Democratic administration and then when a Republican administration comes [that we’d spurn them],” he said.

“The truth is, we should talk to Likud first,” he added.

Abbas’ call to engage with AIPAC is ironic, as it comes at a time when more and more progressive voices, from the so-called Squad, to Bernie Sanders to former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, are calling for just the opposite.

Last month, Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, met with an AIPAC delegation in Ramallah.

In the meeting at the UN, Abbas also told the Palestinian Americans that the steps that Biden administration for the Palestinians, including restoring $700 million worth of aid to the Palestinians in 2022 alone, was not enough and that it needed to do more to pressure Israel into peace talks.

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Abbas claimed he scolded U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for remaining passive about Israel’s refusal to enter into negotiations.

“I told Blinken, ‘You little boy, don’t do that,’” he said in Arabic.

However, a source familiar with the conversation told The Times of Israel that Abbas’ characterization of the matter was not accurate.

It isn’t the first time Abbas has derided a U.S. official in such a manner.

In February 2020, the octogenarian attacked Jared Kushner, the architect of Trump administration’s peace plan, by referring to him as “that boy.”