Palestinian Authority officials traveling with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that the mini-summit conversation in New York Tuesday was a “disgrace to the PA” and a "surrender to Israel.”
Abbas was in trouble before he left Ramallah to travel to New York. “This [summit] is the best recipe to kill the last hope Mahmoud Abbas had as our President. He lost it big time,” one Arab journalist told Fox News’ Michael Tobin.
The PA officials, who did not want their names used, told various media that the summit, arranged by U.S. President Barack Obama, represented “a desperate diplomatic step by the American government.” Another member of Abbas’ delegation declared, “We were disappointed with the positions of the U.S. government that in effect surrendered to Israel and allowed construction of thousands of residential units in Judea and Samaria.”
Hamas, as expected, was even sharper in its criticism but aimed its anger at Abbas for “continuing to surrender to the will of the Americans and the Zionists.”
President Obama made it clear to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abbas that he is not interested in any more posturing and wants direct talks. He gave them a three-week deadline to make progress towards resuming negotiation on the proposed establishment of a new Arab state within Israel’s current borders.
However, as soon as the brief talks between President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abbas ended, the leaders already were expressing different conclusions. The Israeli leader flatly stated, "There was general agreement, including on the part of the Palestinians, that the peace process has to be resumed as soon as possible with no preconditions.”
His declaration accompanied a statement by U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell that the United States never insisted on preconditions for talks, specifically referring to the American and PA demand that Israel stop all construction for Jews in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Abbas and other officials publicly contradicted Mitchell and Prime Minister Netanyahu. 'In today's meetings we…demanded that the Israeli side fulfill its commitments on settlements, including on natural growth," Abbas said. Reflecting the pressure from President Obama that he stop placing conditions on further talks, Abbas added, “We believe the American administration will review the positions of the two sides in the coming weeks to make it possible for us to renew peace talks based on our stated position.'
Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rdineh was more adamant, telling reporters that an Israeli building freeze "is a clear Palestinian condition and a stance that would never be changed. Even if the talks are resumed, it had to focus on the six permanent status issues which are Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, water and security, but the first essential issue is Jerusalem," said Abu Rdineh.