White House: No contact with Palestinians since Jerusalem declaration

The Palestinians have severed all ties with the White House, which is attempting to jump-start the peace process. 

By: JNS.org and World Israel News Staff

The US has had no direct contact with the Palestinian leadership since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, a White House official said.

The official said on Tuesday that there has been no contact between Trump’s Middle East negotiating team, which includes his son-in-law Jared Kushner and international negotiations envoy Jason Greenblatt, since the December announcement of US policy changes on Jerusalem.

“[It is] unfortunate that the president has so many times reached out to explain how dedicated he is to helping the Palestinian people,” the official told reporters, adding that a “disconnect” has caused Palestinian leaders to view the US as not committed to fair negotiations.

“We are here, dedicated and ready to engage whenever they are. We’ll be here when they’re ready,” the official said.

While White House officials have been engaged in talks with high-level Palestinian officials, there are no plans for a meeting between Trump and Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas.

“One of the tragic things I have noticed since December 6 is there are so many Palestinians who are reaching out…both in the West Bank and Gaza,” the official said. “They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk.”

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Peace depends on the Palestinians

Before ending his visit to Israel, Vice President Mike Pence said that reigniting the peace process depends on the Palestinians.

“The White House has been working with our partners in the region to see if we can develop a framework for peace,” Pence told Reuters. “It all just depends now on when the Palestinians are going to come back to the table.”

However, in a meeting with Egyptian-Ambassador-designate Issam Ashour in Ramallah on Tuesday, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said that “the extremist positions of this US Administration and the biblical messianic message of Pence not only disqualified the US as a peace broker but created conditions of volatility and instability in the region and beyond.”

“The administration’s blind support of Israel and its complicit role in the military occupation have dealt a deathblow to the chances of peace,” she stated.

In Jerusalem on Tuesday, Pence repeated his conviction that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will ultimately help move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process along.

“President Trump truly believes that the decision the United States has made to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we believe, will set the table for the opportunity to move forward in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace,” he said.