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P.A. is looking to mend relations with U.S.

Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2017.  Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

By DANIEL SIRYOTI
(Israel Hayom via JNS)  – A senior official in Ramallah revealed to Israeli daily Israel Hayom on Monday,July 8, that the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and Washington have been exchanging messages in an effort to smooth things over and end the P.A. boycott against the U.S. administration.

According to the official, a senior delegation led by the head of the P.A. General Intelligence Service, Majed Faraj, is expected to fly to Washington in the near future to hold talks with White House officials. Representatives of Abbas and Trump recently engaged in secret talks to hash out the details of the meeting, said the official.

Reasons For Rapprochement
“These discussions are strictly feelers, although both sides have shown a positive approach and made progress toward possibly renewing relations,” said the official. According to the official, one of the reasons for the P.A.’s change in course is its dissatisfaction over the U.S.-sponsored economic summit in Bahrain in June, which was attended by Arab states despite pleas from Abbas to boycott it. According to the official, Ramallah viewed their participation as “a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.”

Another reason, said the official, is that Ramallah expects the diplomatic portion of the American peace plan to be unveiled following the upcoming Israeli election (set for Sept. 17), and the Palestinians want to have stabilized their relationship with Trump and his envoys by then.

The P.A.’s poor economic situation and Ramallah’s interest in renewing financial aid,

P.A. Interviews Greenblatt
A recent Palestinian news report quoted U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt as saying that Trump could introduce the political portion of his peace plan before the Israeli election.

Greenblatt’s extensive interview with Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyamnot an inconsequential event considering the P.A.’s belief that the American administration is completely biased toward Israel—can be seen as further proof that Washington-Ramallah relations are thawing.

“Greenblatt and [U.S. Ambassador to Israel David] Friedman are personae non gratae in the P.A., and the interview with Greenblatt is intended to soften the Palestinian public’s position before returning to the path of discourse and accepting the Trump administration as a mediator between it and Israel,” said the P.A. official.

In the Al-Ayyam interview, Greenblatt said: “President Trump hasn’t made a decision yet on when to publish the full peace plan. He is weighing the options in accordance with the Israeli election and the decision will be made shortly.”

Trump and his administration are aware of the obstacles that stand in the way of the regional peace plan, Greenblatt added, but are determined to move forward.

“We weren’t surprised by the difficulties the peace plan entails and that there are those who don’t accept it. Anyone who doesn’t understand that, doesn’t understand the essence of the conflict. With that, all sides need to understand that it’s not possible to present a perfect plan. We need to sit together and discuss the issues and obstacles, in negotiations, so that we can reach an agreement,” he said.

We Must Talk
“If we don’t reach a point where everyone is sitting in one room and talking, as was the case when the Palestinians boycotted the Bahrain conference, nothing will happen, and it won’t be the first time a peace process has failed,” stressed Greenblatt. “The thought that Washington, Europe or the United Nations has some sort of magic formula to resolve the conflict is incorrect, and therefore, we must all sit down in the same room and talk.”

Greenblatt didn’t spare the P.A. leadership any criticism during the interview, telling the Ramallah-based newspaper that “the Palestinians leadership needs to internalize that the [Bahrain] summit’s success proves there are those who believe in peace and in the Palestinian people’s ability to create a good and flourishing economy with the help of numerous investors. This is an opportunity the Palestinian leadership can’t afford to miss.”

With that, Greenblatt insisted that the Trump administration has no intention of “forcing its positions on Ramallah or buying the Palestinians with money. If there is a peace deal, the Palestinians will have a dream economy, because we believe that without a serious economic plan that includes investments and initiatives, a successful peace plan isn’t feasible.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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