Report: PA reconsidering boycott of US

Israel Hayom newspaper reports that the Palestinian Authority is trying to straighten things out with Trump administration.

Elad Benari ,

Trump and Abbas
Trump and Abbas

Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are re-thinking their boycott of the US administration, the Israel Hayom newspaper reports.

A senior official in Ramallah told the newspaper that mutual messages have been sent recently between Ramallah and Washington in order to straighten things out and end PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ boycott of President Donald Trump and his representatives - Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt. The PA has been boycotting the US since December of 2017, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to the source, a delegation of senior officials from Ramallah headed by Majid Faraj, head of the PA security services, is expected to depart for Washington soon for discussions with senior US officials, and that secret contacts and talks have recently taken place between Trump's associates and Abbas’ associates.

"The two sides have presented a positive attitude and progress has been made towards the possibility of renewing relations," the senior PA official told Israel Hayom.

According to the report, one reason for the PA’s change of heart could be its disappointment with the Arab countries which agreed to participate in the US-led Bahrain conference, despite Abbas’ pleas to boycott it. Given that one of the goals of the conference was to exert pressure on Abbas to end the boycott, it seems that the move succeeded.

Another reason is the assessment in Ramallah that the political aspect of the “Deal of the Century” will be unveiled after the elections and the establishment of a government in Israel, and the Palestinian Arabs are interested in stabilizing relations with President Trump and his people before that happens.

Proof of the thaw in the relationship between Ramallah and Washington was evident in an extensive interview given by Greenblatt to the Ramallah-based newspaper Al-Ayyam on Monday.

"Greenblatt and Friedman are persona non-grata in the PA, and the interview with Greenblatt is intended to soften the Palestinian public's position towards returning to the negotiating track and accepting the Trump administration as an intermediary between us and Israel," a close associate of Abbas told Israel Hayom.

In the interview with Al-Ayyam, Greenblatt said, “President Trump has not yet decided when the full peace plan will be published. He is weighing the options based on the Israeli elections and the decision to publish the plan will be made soon.”

Greenblatt noted that Trump and his administration are aware of the difficulties in the “Deal of the Century”, but are determined to move forward with the regional peace plan.

"We are not surprised by the difficulties in the peace plan and by the fact that there are those who do not accept it. Those who do not understand it do not understand the nature of the conflict. At the same time, all the parties must understand that it is impossible to present a perfect plan. We have to sit together and talk about the issues and obstacles in negotiations so that there will be an agreement," added the US envoy.

Greenblatt did not spare the PA leadership from criticism and told the Ramallah-based newspaper, "The Palestinian leadership must internalize that the success of the conference in Bahrain shows that there are those who believe in peace and in the ability of the Palestinian people to create a good and prosperous economy with the help of many investors. This is an opportunity that the Palestinian leadership must not miss."

At the same time, he stressed that Trump does not intend to "impose his positions on Ramallah or buy the Palestinians with money.”

“If there is a peace agreement, the Palestinians will have a dream economy, because we believe that without a serious economic plan that includes investments and various projects, there will be no feasibility for a successful peace agreement," explained Greenblatt.