Trump's 'deal of the century' will not bring peace to Palestine, Abbas adviser says

Nabil Shaath, adviser to Palestinian President, says a peace plan must be drawn up by the international community

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas listens while US President Donald Trump makes a statement for the press before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
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US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” will not lead to peace in Palestine, according to Nabil Shaath, adviser to Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas, amid reports that the White House is finalising details of the controversial plan's announcement.

"Mr Trump's suggestion [of a peace deal] is really unacceptable and whatever he's going to say cannot possibly be the road to peace," Mr Shaath told The National.

The American president has pledged the “deal of the century” to end the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict, yet the Palestinian official believes the proposal is biased and one-sided. Details of the deal's contents have yet to be made public.

Mr Shaath stressed that Washington’s peace deal has nothing to offer the Palestinians. “He has already issued what he wanted" by declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cutting funds to Palestine's refugee agency, he said.

“We have rejected [the proposed plan] and we said that we will not accept either President Trump’s suggestion nor the role of the United States as the only participant to the peace process,” he said.

Washington’s actions on Jerusalem, relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city, overturned decades of US policy that promised the city’s status would be decided only through joint Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. It drew universal condemnation from Arab leaders and widespread criticism elsewhere.

The US president also declared that his administration would no longer fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), reversing a policy of support by every American leader since the organisation was created nearly 70 years ago.

Further moves against the Palestinians have included the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s mission in Washington, which opened in 1994.

“Mr Trump said he doesn’t accept the presence of Palestinian refugees and has stopped their funding. He also declared that he rejects a Palestinian state and therefore we are not expecting anything from him on this deal,” Mr Shaath said.

The Palestinian official confirmed that the authorities "will not surrender", citing that other Arab states will not give in to Mr Trump's deal as "a price for peace".

Instead, he suggested that any future Palestinian state must be drawn up by the inclusion of a multiple sides that includes the US, UK, China, Russia and all of the Arab nations.

“It must be based on international law and on signed agreements – that is the road to a two-state solution and if that is acceptable then we would accept it,” Mr Shaath said.

The Palestinians are seeking to establish an independent state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“We are the Palestinians who have struggled for years against settler colonialism that has threatened many Arab countries during our history, we are seeking peace,” Mr Shaath said.

For the last two decades, the goal of US-led diplomacy has been a two-state solution, meaning an independent Palestinian state living side by side and at peace with Israel.

But neither Mr Trump or his senior aides have publicly recommitted to a two-state solution, instead saying it is up to the two parties to work that out in peace talks.

President Abbas insists on a return to 1967 pre-war borders – a claim that Israel has repeatedly rejected.

The development comes as reports emerged that Mr Trump will meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt among other senior officials to discuss the timing for the deal’s release.

According to the Axios news site, Mr Trump would like the document “to be released sometime between December and February”.


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