Palestinians step up attacks on Trump administration

Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Thursday stepped up their verbal attacks on the US administration and its representatives, and again vowed to thwart President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East.

The officials accused the US administration of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and exploiting the “suffering” of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to create a separate Palestinian state there.

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They also warned that any Palestinian who cooperates with the US and Israeli “conspiracies” would be considered a traitor.

The latest Palestinian condemnations of the US administration were triggered by a statement released on Thursday by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, concerning Egypt’s effort to bring calm to the Gaza Strip.

In his statement, Greenblatt said that the Palestinian Authority “should be part of the solution for the Palestinians of Gaza and Palestinians as a whole.” However, he warned that if the PA does not want to be part of the solution, “others will fill that void.” He added: “Leadership is about making hard choices. The people of Gaza, and Israelis in the area around Gaza, have suffered for far too long. It is time for the Palestinian Authority to lead the Palestinian people – all Palestinians – to a better future.”

PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said in response that the Palestinians alone, and not the US or any other party, “could decide on their fate and elect their legitimate leadership.”

Accusing the US and Israel of being behind “conspiracies to eliminate the Palestinian cause,” Abu Rudaineh said that there was no alternative to the PLO as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

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He said that anyone who accepts an alternative to the choice of the Palestinian people would be “fully complicit in the conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian cause and transform it from a cause of a people seeking freedom and independence into a humanitarian issue.”

The Palestinians, Abu Rudaineh added, consider Greenblatt’s remarks as “barefaced and unacceptable.” He accused the US administration of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and said that the Palestinians would confront such attempts in the same way they confronted Trump’s unseen plan, which is also referred to as the deal of the century.

“The Palestinians and their leadership will thwart all these conspiracies,” the PA spokesman vowed. “We will foil all suspicious schemes that are being concocted against our national cause in the name of the Gaza Strip as we have thwarted the deal of the century conspiracy.”

Abu Rudaineh called on all Palestinians, specifically Hamas, to be “conscious of the magnitude of the conspiracy against the Palestinian national project.”

He accused the US administration of “aborting international efforts to salvage the peace process” by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and from Tel Aviv to the city. Abu Rudaineh also accused the Trump administration of working towards “liquidating the issue of the refugees by eliminating” the United Nations Relief and Woks Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

Referring to the between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian factions, the PA spokesman said that the US administration, especially Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, were seeking “to destroy the Palestinian cause and Palestinian aspirations for freedom and independence.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction on Thursday also launched a scathing attack on the Trump administration and Greenblatt for “meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.”

Osama Qawassmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, warned that anyone who tries to fill the void in line with Israeli and American wishes will be considered a “collaborator and traitor.” He accused the US administration of “opening fire” at the peace process and “breaching the international law” by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and slashing funds to the PA and UNRWA.

Munir al-Jaghoub, head of Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization, said that the PLO, the PA and the Palestinian leadership “acquire their legitimacy from the support of the Palestinian people and from a long history of struggle to end the occupation and embody the Palestinian national identity.”

The Fatah official said that neither Greenblatt nor anyone else was authorized to talk about an issue that “affects the sovereignty of the Palestinian people.” The Palestinians, he said, won’t allow anyone to meddle in their internal affairs.

Jaghoub scoffed at Greenblatt’s “weeping” over the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and accused the US administration of fully supporting the Israeli “blockade and aggression” against the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

“As long as America provides a cover and support and protection for Israel, then, like Israel, it is responsible for the suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip in particular and all Palestinians in general,” Jaghoub added.

“Greenblatt’s miserable remarks are an expression of the failure of the US administration to find a Palestinian partner who would agree to be involved in the implementation of what this administration calls the deal of the century.”

Trump’s upcoming plan, the senior Fatah official charged, “is nothing but an attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause. “This plan was devised by [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and it’s being implemented by the US administration under the label of the deal of the century,” Jaghoub claimed.

The US administration, he said, will not succeed in its attempt to bypass Palestinian opposition to Trump’s upcoming plan “by seeking  imaginary solutions to the situation in the Gaza Strip and distorting the conflict and limiting it to humanitarian issues.”

The Palestinians, the Fatah official said, were “aware of efforts made by the US and Israel to separate the Gaza Strip from the rest of the homeland in preparation for destroying our dream of establishing an independent Palestinian state.”

The Fatah official “advised” Greenblatt to “learn from the experiences of his predecessors and to realize that the Palestinian cause has been for decades – and remains – the whole world’s number one pivotal cause.”

Ahmed Majdalani, member of the PLO Executive Committee, claimed on Thursday that the efforts to achieve a truce in the Gaza Strip were part of a “wider political deal.” The Palestinian leadership, he said, has received “confirmed information about regional s with Israel and the US administration to make Hamas part of a larger political deal that extends beyond a truce.”

The main purpose of the proposed truce, he argued, was not to resolve the crisis in the Gaza Strip, but to “create a frame to pave the way for a political deal that would result in the establishment of a [Palestinian] political entity in there as an alternative to the two-state solution.”

Majdalani too pledged that Abbas and the PA leadership will not allow any “liquidationist project to pass.”

Another top PLO official, Taysir Khaled, said that Greenblatt’s statements illustrate the “hostile and arrogant character” of the Trump administration. Previous “desperate attempts” by Israel, the US and regional parties to find alternative leaders for the Palestinians had failed, he added.

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