Arab leaders: Negotiations possible, 'despite J'lem declaration'

Jordanian, Saudi leaders express 'optimism' at renewal of peace negotiations. 'Negotiations depend on the goodwill of the sides.'

Arutz Sheva Staff,

King Abdullah
King Abdullah

Notwithstanding US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Jerusalem and his pledge to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, some Arab leaders are expressing optimism at the prospect of renewed negotiations between Israel and the PA which don’t involve unilateral action against Israel or circumventing the US as a mediator.

On Monday, PA chairman Abbas met with European Union Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini in the EU capital in Brussels, in a bid by the PA leader to win recognition for a Palestinian state - with Jerusalem as its capital - from the 28-member European body.

The trip, which coincided with Vice President Mike Pence’s three-day visit to Israel, was part of a larger effort to circumvent the US, the traditional broker of PA-Israel negotiations, and push to have the EU take a more active role in the Middle East.

On Sunday, the PA’s foreign affairs chief Riyad Al-Maliki told AFP that the “rules of the game” had been fundamentally altered by President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

"Since Trump's decision has altered the rules of the game, he (Abbas) expects the European foreign ministers to come forward and collectively recognize the state of Palestine as a way to respond back to Trump's decision," Maliki said.

"If the Europeans want to be a player then they have to be fair in their treatment of both parties and this should start with the recognition of the state of Palestine.”

However, speaking to Ma’ariv during the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today, Wednesday, some Arab leaders did not seem to think that Trump's declaration had necessarily "altered the rules of the game," indicating that peace negotiations could still take place on the basis of mutual agreement between the parties "despite" the recognition of Jerusalem.

Jordan’s King Abdullah told Ma’ariv that he “prefers to remain optimistic” about the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the PA.

“The renewal of negotiations is dependent on the goodwill exhibited by the sides, despite the declaration on Jerusalem,” he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said to Ma'ariv that “the American initiative should be awaited,” and “If it contains elements accepted by the sides, it will be possible to renew negotiations despite the current crisis surrounding the declaration of President Trump.”