Still fuming over President Trump’s Jerusalem recognition, the PA autocrat refused to meet with a U.S. delegation of 11 Democratic representatives, despite their lack of allegiance to, and continued criticism of, the US president.
By Arutz Sheva North America Staff,
Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with a delegation of Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives that visited Israel two months ago, in protest of the Trump administration’s policies toward Israel, Haaretz revealed.
According to the newspaper, Abbas’ refusal to meet the delegation caught its members by surprise, because many of them are constant critics of the Trump administration and were hoping to hear Abbas’ point of view about Trump’s policies while visiting the region.
The delegation, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, visited Israel and Jordan in late March. It comprised 11 representatives, including two members of the House Intelligence Committee. They held lengthy meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and King Abdullah II in Amman, Jordan.
The delegation also met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who thanked the members of Congress for their unwavering support for Israel and for the aid budget approved by Congress for Israel’s anti-missile defense program amounting to $705 million in 2018, the largest sum ever approved for the program.
According to Haaretz, the delegation also wanted to visit Ramallah and meet Abbas, but to their surprise, he refused to meet them.
PA officials explained that following Trump’s speech on Jerusalem last December, in which he recognized the city as Israel’s capital, Abbas decided to halt all political contacts with the United States, irrespective of the official’s party affiliation or branch of government.
Abbas has also refused for months to communicate with the team within the administration working on Trump’s proposed peace plan.
PA officials have repeatedly rejected the Trump administration’s peace proposal before it has even been made public, claiming it was coordinated with Israel.
A PA official told Haaretz that Abbas refused to meet the delegation even though he knew they were all Democrats, and included strong critics of Trump. The decision, this official added, was meant to send a message that despite the Democrats’ criticism of Trump, the party didn’t act in any significant way to oppose the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to the city.
The same official told the newspaper that Abbas reached the conclusion that the Democrats gave their silent blessing to the embassy move. While some Democrats, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have openly and repeatedly praised Trump for moving the embassy, many other party leaders and officials have taken a more nuanced line, saying that while they support the idea of moving the embassy, they find the timing and the manner in which it was done unhelpful and even damaging.
A Democratic congressional aide who is aware of the incident told Haaretz that there were two main reactions among the Democrats to Abbas’ refusal to meet the delegation. “Some people said it made them doubt his sincerity to engage in peace talks, because if he won’t even meet a group of Democrats who don’t hesitate to criticize Trump, who is he going to work with? On the other hand, it made everyone understand how much anger and disappointment there is on the Palestinian side towards Trump, and how ridiculous it is to expect his administration to promote peace between the two sides.”
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