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Abbas working 'day and night' to 'remain relevant', PA officials tell i24NEWS

Un jeune Palestinien escalade le mur qui sépare Israël de la Palestine, près de Ramallah le 15 mai 2008
DAVID FURST (AFP/Archives)
PA officials hope to "outlast President Trump's attempt to systematically dismantle the Palestinian cause"

Prominent Palestinian officials in Ramallah told i24NEWS that Mahmoud Abbas is "working day and night to remain relevant", as he confronts a strongly pro-Israel US presidency.

The officials say they fear the current American government led by President Donald Trump is trying to "systematically dismantle” the Palestinian cause, as shown by its December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Palestinian officials said that Washington's slashing of $65 million in aid funding to the the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) could be a sign that they aim to “obliterate altogether” the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

For the Palestinians, the right for descendants to return to homes they either fled or were forced out of is a prerequisite for any peace agreement with Israel, but it is a demand the Jewish state has rejected out of hand.

Palestinian officials tell i24NEWS they fear Trump is trying to “exploit Arab weakness” to impose unfavorable condition on the Palestinians.

However, the officials say they hope to "outlast President Trump" and in the meantime “limit damage done by his administration” while hoping for a better partner when the United States elects a new president in 2020.

Palestinians use the Arab word “Sumud”, which literally means “steadfastness”, to refer to the capability of being “resilient” when confronted with adverse circumstances.

Meanwhile, the officials say Abbas hopes to get the UN Security Council to recognize the State of Palestine.

“Abbas is looking for a member state to submit an application on its behalf,” Palestinian sources told i24NEWS.

Earlier in January, the UN Security Council voted against the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. However, the veto of the United States blocked the resolution against the move.

AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP/File)
 

Abbas is reportedly planning to give a speech to the UN Security Council on February 20th, in New York, after a trip to Russia where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The United States can co-sponsor the peace process, within a multilateral framework, not through individual sponsorship, as in the past, because of its bias towards Israel,” PA officials told i24NEWS.

However, the same officials admitted that a European Union leader acknowledged to the Palestinians that they cannot “replace” the United States as main mediators in the conflict, as Abbas had hoped in the wake of Trump’s controversial policy change towards Jerusalem.

The Palestinian officials said that Washington will announce its long-promised peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian “very soon”.

Abbas has already dismissed the widely anticipated plan as the “slap of the century”, mocking Trump’s promise that he would herald in “the deal of the century” between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

In conversations recently published in “Fire and Fury, inside the Trump White House”, a book by Micheal Wolff, Trump's former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon envisaged an unusual solution to the conflict

“Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying,” he allegedly said at a dinner.

However, Bannon has since been dismissed from his position in the White House and details about the upcoming peace plan are yet to emerge.

A source in Ramallah said Saudi Arabia will be the “key player” in the region on behalf of Washington when it comes to the new peace plan, and Palestinians fear they might "impose" a bad plan on the Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly proposed a peace initiative which offers the Palestinians the Jerusalem-adjacent village of Abu Dis as an alternative capital in their future state, in an effort to overcome competing Israeli and Palestinian claims over the holy city.

According to a report by The New York Times published in December, the proposal offers the Palestinians a non-contiguous state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over which they will have only partial sovereignty.

The plan is said to leave the majority of Israeli settlers in the West Bank in place and might not grant Palestinian refugees and their descendants living in other countries the right of return to Israel.

Saudi Arabia has denied endorsing such a plan and said they are committed to the two states solution based on 1967 borders.

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