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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Mahmoud Abbas Seeks to Halt Trump’s “Deal of the Century”

Filed under: Israel, Palestinians, Peace Process

Mahmoud Abbas Seeks to Halt Trump’s “Deal of the Century”
Mahmoud Abbas addressing the United Nations Security Council (C-Span)
  • The main purpose of Mahmoud Abbas’s political plan is to put a stop to the “deal of a century” that U.S. President Donald Trump is currently formulating.
  • After asserting that the U.S. administration lost its ability to serve as an impartial mediator, Mahmoud Abbas asked the UN Security Council for help in granting the State of Palestine full member status at the United Nations. He also called for the creation of an international mechanism to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • In a thinly veiled way, Mahmoud Abbas’s speech denies the rights of the Jewish people to its homeland in the Land of Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas addressing the United Nations Security Council
Mahmoud Abbas addressing the United Nations Security Council (C-Span)

On February 20, 2018, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) addressed the UN Security Council. In his speech, he presented his plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [See below for a translation of Mahmoud Abbas’s plan.]

Mahmoud Abbas’s Political Deception

Mahmoud Abbas’s plan is primarily intended to bring a halt to the “deal of the century” that U.S. President Donald Trump is formulating. After asserting that the U.S. administration lost its ability to serve as an impartial mediator, Mahmoud Abbas chose to approach the UN Security Council directly and seek its intervention in granting the State of Palestine full member status at the United Nations and its assistance in creating an international mechanism to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mahmoud Abbas’s political outline presents an outwardly moderate approach. However, in practice, it shows an uncompromising Palestinian adherence to the basic principles of striving for Israel’s ultimate destruction. First of all, Mahmoud Abbas demands international recognition of a Palestinian state within the lines of June 4, 1967. This type of recognition, if it were to come about, would effectively render the necessity of negotiations on most of the issues under debate superfluous. This is because it immediately grants full rights to the Palestinian people.

Additionally, with regard to the sector of the population referred to as “refugees” and their descendants, Mahmoud Abbas adopts a path of political deception. He presents the Arab Peace Initiative (of 2002 and re-endorsed by the Arab League in 2017) as a “just and agreed solution,” but his position requires the implementation of all of the resolutions of the international institutions regarding the refugees in accordance with the Palestinian interpretation of these resolutions. In other words, this is an uncompromising demand to allow the fulfillment of “the right of return” to Israeli territory in accordance with the perception of millions of Palestinians. This would be at the expense of the Jewish population, which would be displaced from the existing communities where they live today. Mahmoud Abbas’s political outline demands all of these rights through the international recognition of a Palestinian state in accordance with the 1967 lines. However, from this standpoint, the “refugee” crisis would only continue.

In his speech to the UN Security Council, Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that he rejected any historical, religious, or other right of the Jewish nation to any part of the Land of Israel:

“We [the Palestinians] are the descendants of the Canaanites that lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years,” Mahmoud Abbas claimed, denying the concrete historical facts that connect the Jewish people to this piece of land for thousands of years. With the Balfour Declaration, Mahmoud Abbas emphasized, the British government granted rights that it did not own to those who were not eligible to receive them. In other words, Mahmoud Abbas rejects the right of the Jewish nation to establish a national homeland in the Land of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas’s deception continues with his allusion to terror: He claimed that the Palestinian Authority is committed to “fostering a culture of peace and rejection of violence.” Yet the very same Palestinian Authority encourages acts of violence as part of the intifada, gives monthly allowances to terrorists, and refuses to declare any Palestinian organizations terror organizations. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority is attempting to reach a reconciliation agreement with the terror organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad and integrate them within the PLO and government institutions. He hints at this point in his following remarks: “We continue to strive to unite our people and land and to ensure one authority, one law, and one gun, and are determined to convene parliamentary and presidential elections.”

What Will Happen After the Mahmoud Abbas Era?

Aside from his desire to bring Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the government, Mahmoud Abbas’ words attest to the most serious challenge that he faces, which is pulling out the rug from under his political plan. Mahmoud Abbas essentially admits that the Palestinian Authority that he leads does not have complete control over the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Hamas regime, the bitter rival of the Palestinian Authority. This means that Mahmoud Abbas cannot represent the Palestinian people or accept resolutions on their behalf with regard to strategic issues. The Hamas leadership is not prepared to offer any essential compromises in any negotiations over the implementation of the various reconciliation agreements that it has with the Palestinian Authority. Apparently, this standpoint is based on the assumption that octogenarian Mahmoud Abbas’s days are numbered. Hamas has placed its main emphasis on strengthening the position of its leadership as an alternative political power. It is preparing the groundwork for dealing with a new approach, in cooperation with the PLO, following the Mahmoud Abbas era.

Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the United Nations Security Council, February 20, 2012.1

First: We call for the convening of an international peace conference by mid-2018, based on international law and the relevant UN resolutions, with broad international participation and including the two concerned parties and the regional and international stakeholders, foremost among them the Permanent Members of the Security Council and the international Quartet, as was the framework for the Paris Peace Conference and as envisaged for the conference to be convened in Moscow as per resolution 1850 (2008). The outcomes of this conference should be as follows:

  1. Acceptance of the State of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations and a call on the Security Council to achieve that, taking into account General Assembly resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012, and guaranteeing international protection for our people.
  2. Mutual recognition between the State of Palestine and the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders.
  3. Formation of an international multilateral mechanism that will assist the two parties in the negotiations to resolve the permanent status issues defined in the Oslo Accords (Jerusalem, borders, security, settlements, refugees, water, and prisoners), conduct those negotiations on the basis of international law and the relevant UN resolutions, and implement what is to be agreed upon within a set time frame and with guarantees for this implementation.

Second: During the period of negotiations, all parties must refrain from unilateral actions, particularly those that would prejudge the outcome of a final solution, as set forth in Article 31 of the Oslo Accords of 1993. Foremost must be the cessation of settlement activities in the territory occupied since 1967, including east Jerusalem, and suspension of the decision regarding Jerusalem and halting transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, in compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, including in particular resolutions 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 2334 (2016), and General Assembly resolution ES-10/19. At the same time, the State of Palestine would refrain from further joining organizations, as we have previously committed ourselves to. (Namely 22 international organizations out of 500 organizations and treaties.)

Third: Implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative, as adopted and endorsed, and the conclusion of a regional agreement upon achievement of a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis. In this regard, we must reaffirm the terms of reference for any upcoming negotiations and they are as follows:

  1. Respect for international law and the relevant resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) through to resolution 2334 (2016), and the Arab Peace Initiative, and the signed agreements.
  2. Preservation of the principle of the two states, i.e., the State of Palestine, with east Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, and rejection of partial solutions and a state of provisional borders.
  3. Acceptance of minimal land swaps, in equal value and ratio, with the agreement between the two parties.
  4. East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and an open city for the faithful of the three monotheistic religions.
  5. Ensuring the security of the two states without undermining the independence and sovereignty of either of them through the existence of an international third party.
  6. A just and agreed solution for the Palestine refugees on the basis of resolution 194 (III) and in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and, pending a just solution, continuation of the international commitment and support to UNRWA.

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