Palestinian leader Abbas says US no longer welcome as broker for talks with Israel

‘We don’t trust the US.’ Palestinian Authority chairman says he will no longer accept the US as an intermediary for final status negotiations with Israel ‘under any condition.’ 

By Tia Goldenberg, The Associated Press

The Palestinian Authority chairman on Thursday used an audience with Vladimir Putin to denounce the United States, telling the Russian leader that he has no faith in Washington as a Mideast peace broker.

Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Putin at a regional summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. His comments about the U.S., traditionally the main broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, came at a time when the U.S. and Russia are at loggerheads over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We don’t trust the U.S.,” Abbas said, speaking in Arabic, as Putin looked on. “We don’t accept the U.S., under any condition, (as) a single party in solving the Middle East problem,” he added.

He said that the Palestinian Authority would only consider U.S. mediation if it were part of the “Quartet,” a grouping of nations that includes Russia.

With Thursday’s meeting, Abbas became one of the few world leaders to sit down with Putin since Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February. In his public comments, Abbas did not mention the war, nor did a statement released later by his office.

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Abbas’ remarks reflected his frustration with the U.S., which has stepped back from its once-intense mediation between Israelis and the Palestinian Authority. Instead, it has turned its focus toward other pressing global issues like the war in Ukraine, relations with China and economic woes.

The comments also follow a crisis of confidence between the Palestinian Authority’s leadership and the U.S. after the Trump administration cut funding to the PA and pursued policies that were favorable toward Israel. That included moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel to the contested city of Jerusalem.

President Joe Biden has restored the funding, but kept the embassy in Jerusalem. He also has not attempted to restart peace talks, focusing instead on more modest goals such as boosting the Palestinian Authority’s economy.

Israel and the PA have not held substantive peace talks in more than a decade.

The U.S. has been central to previous negotiations, brokering interim peace deals in the 1990s that created the Palestinian Authority, which Abbas leads.

Abbas’ words, however, come in what could be the waning years of his leadership.

The 87-year-old heads a weak Palestinian Authority leadership with no real succession plans for the day the long-serving leader is gone.