The Palestinian Authority won’t reject the Trump administration’s peace plan out of hand, but doesn’t expect it will be acceptable, President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser Nabil Shaath said ahead of Israel’s national election.

After the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and stopped funding the organization that serves Palestinian refugees, there appears to be little left on the table to talk about, Shaath said in an interview Monday in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement over the weekend that if re-elected he would annex West Bank land the Palestinians seek for a state is yet another — albeit unsurprising — blow to Palestinian dreams, Shaath said.

“There is nothing left really to dream of except that maybe if we accept to give up everything, then maybe they will give us a little bit of money,” he said of the Trump administration. “We are not going to sell out our country for his money.” 

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the main architect of the administration’s Middle East policy, has said the so-called “deal of the century” will include investments in the West Bank and Gaza. Kushner also has said it will address core issues of the conflict, which include the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled from homes in present-day Israel in the fighting surrounding its 1948 creation.

Contact Ended
It’s unclear whether the plan, which is expected to be released shortly after Israel’s April 9 election, will provide for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. After Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights last month, Israeli media had speculated the move would embolden Netanyahu to seek to annex West Bank land. 

“I’m not saying that we won’t look at it, but I don’t expect it to have anything worthwhile,” Shaath said. “I will read it and I will look at it, and I will reject it if it is really what I expect.”

The Palestinians broke off contact with the U.S. administration in December 2017 after Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced he’d move the American embassy there. The Palestinians, Shaath said, will resist any Israeli annexation moves through international institutions and with the help of friendly nations. 

Tight Race
The U.S. plan may be one of the first major diplomatic issues Israel’s next prime minister has to face. Netanyahu, who is running a tight race against former military chief of staff Benny Gantz, has said he would give the Trump proposal “serious consideration.”

Shaath said the results of the Israeli elections mattered little to the Palestinians, since both candidates have similar policies.

“The two are the extreme right,” he said. “So you are talking about an Israel in which the battle for prime minister does not produce any hope for the Palestinians.”

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Date published: 14/04/2019
Written by: Gwen Ackerman and Fadwa Hodali
Feature image: Mahmoud Abbas Photographer: Fethi Belaid/AFP via Getty Images
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