Palestinians want US involved in peace talks, but refuse to deal with Trump

According to Israeli analysts, the Palestinians have staked out an untenable position, refusing to deal with President Trump while covertly acknowledging there is no peace process without the US.

By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

The Palestinians remain insistent that they oppose having the United States as the sole sponsor of peace talks with Israel, and they reject having anything to do with President Donald Trump or his emissaries. On the other hand, they understand that they have no choice but to allow Washington to take a role within a multilateral framework to get peace negotiations back on track.

Following President Trump’s December announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Palestinian leadership declared that Washington could no longer fulfill its historic and central role in the peace process, a position the US held for over two decades. But after talks with Arab and European leaders, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas now understands that he has no way to proceed without the US.

Palestinian Affairs expert Pinchas Inbari told World Israel News (WIN), “According to my information, Abbas understands that he went too far in his controversial speech. He was told so by European leaders in Brussels. As a result he actually asked for their help to mend relations with the US.”

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Inbari continued, “Abbas then initiated contact with the US administration, and met with the US Consul General of Jerusalem. In Abbas’ way of thinking, he met with a representative of the State Department, but not with an envoy of the White House. That’s why he also refused to meet Vice President Pence.”

Palestinians: in a ‘weak position’

Dr. Moshe Amirav from Hebrew University says that the Palestinians are in a very weak position. Amirav told WIN, “They have no options. Israel can veto European involvement and then they have no hand to play. They know that the only viable option is America. If I was a Palestinian leader I would say ‘no way’ with this president, unless the Arab League and the EU are included.”

“What the Palestinians are aiming for is to have the Middle East Quartet lead the way. The Quartet includes the US, Russia, the EU and the UN working together to mediate a return to peace talks with Israel. In the past the involvement, of the Quartet as a mediator was raised by then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but the Palestinians refused because they thought that the Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair was too pro-Israel.

“Regarding Trump’s declaration, the Palestinians are pushing to get a European guarantee that the US position on Jerusalem will not affect final status agreements,” said Inbari.

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According to Amirav, “The Palestinians are politically weaker than Israel and that does not make for a healthy peace process. I do not think that Israel would agree to the Quartet. If Netanyahu was to ask me, I would advise that he agree to peace talks hosted by the Arab League which at this point in time would work for a fair deal that Israel could accept.”

Amirav adds, “I was at the Camp David talks and I know, and the Palestinians know, the US can never really be an honest broker. Even Obama was influenced by the pro-Israel lobby. “

According to Inbari, the Palestinians yearn for a return to the Obama years. “The Palestinians are already considering the idea of treading water until the next presidential elections in 2020 when they hope that Democrats will be in the White House and the positive atmosphere of the Obama administration will return,” Inbari said.