December 13, 2017 — New York
AJC strongly criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his expressed hostility towards the United States.
“Threatening the U.S. is not a strategy for advancing the prospects of peace,” said AJC CEO David Harris.
Addressing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Abbas declared that the U.S. is “unfit” to be a mediator, and he no longer sees a role for Washington in the peace process. The Palestinian leader also threatened to cancel existing agreements with Israel.
Abbas’s harsh attack on the U.S. comes after he announced earlier this week that he would not meet with Vice President Pence, as previously scheduled, during his visit to the region.
“The Palestinian Authority’s wholesale condemnation of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and decision to snub the vice president, is totally unhelpful and needlessly incendiary,” said AJC CEO David Harris.
“Let’s remember that it was Abbas who, in 2008, rebuffed a two-state deal offered by Israel, and who later was AWOL when Israel, at the request of Washington, froze settlement building for ten months as a goodwill gesture to restart peace talks,” said Harris. “Now, tragically, he squanders yet another chance to offer hope to the region simply because Washington has recognized the 68-year reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
Immediately following Trump’s December 6 announcement, the PA encouraged protests, while Hamas, which rules Gaza and recently signed a “reconciliation agreement” with Abbas’s Fatah, called for a third intifada “to liberate Jerusalem.”
“Once again, Abbas has withdrawn into his comfort zone of relying on verbal support in international fora instead of returning to direct negotiations with Israel, the only viable path to achieve an enduring, comprehensive peace based on two states for two peoples,” said Harris.
Vice President Pence, responding to Abbas’s cancelation of their meeting, commendably said: “It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the Administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan.”