Senior Palestinian official Rajoub expressed optimism about Trump’s support for a Palestinian state.
A senior Palestinian official expressed optimism in the Trump administration Monday, saying he was encouraged by early signs the new US president was strongly committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Jibril Rajoub told foreign reporters President Donald Trump made clear to Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas in a recent phone call that he was his “strategic partner” in making a “real and serious” peace between Israelis and Palestinians. After initially shunning the Palestinian leader following his election, Trump called Abbas 10 days ago to invite him for a White House meeting. His Middle East envoy then met with Abbas in his first regional visit.
“There is very, very positive progress,” Rajoub said. “This was a clear-cut message that the Palestinian issue is still a key for regional stability and security and Abu Mazen (Abbas) and his political regime is the partner.”
Trump Exploring Options
Rajoub insists the Trump administration was in a “stage of exploration” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The latest development appeared to assuage some Palestinian fears about Trump, and about isolation in the region, as Israel appears to be growing closer to some Arab nations.
During his campaign, Trump signaled he was seeking a much closer relationship with Israel than former President Barack Obama. His platform made no mention of Palestinian statehood. He promised to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move favored by Israel and bitterly opposed by the Arabs, and he signaled much greater tolerance for Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria.
But since taking office, Trump appears to have backpedaled. He seems to be in no rush to move the embassy, and during a White House meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, he urged restraint on Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.
Last week’s visit of Trump’s envoy, Jason Greenblatt, looked to be aimed largely at listening to both sides.
The Mantra: Its Israel Fault
Rajoub said Trump’s “America First” slogan also indicated he would be less prone to supporting Israel by default. “I have to understand that it means he is not in the pocket,” he said.
Rajoub, who heads the Palestinian Football Association and Olympic Committee, a position he abuses to assail Israel at international forums, was a top vote getter at last year’s leadership election for the ruling Fatah party, placing him as a potential Abbas heir. He claims to favor peace with Israel, but wishes to mobilize the world into delegitimizing the so-called occupation, which he calls a “malignant cancer,” and alleges it is the cause of all Palestinian terror attacks.
“Who is pushing us to violence?” he asks.
He also has harsh words for Netanyahu.
“Mr. Netanyahu and the extremists are trying to spoil the environment,” he says. “Mr. Netanyahu till now is not a potential partner to the two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu’s policies, activities, are potential partners to the expansionists and messianic groups.”
By: AP and World Israel News Staff