Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, says the security cooperation with Israel is ongoing but warned that may not be the case for much longer.
Before traveling with the president to Germany, Abu Rudeineh on Sunday told diplomatic correspondents from Israeli media outlets who were invited to Ramallah to hear the Palestinian point of view on the new U.S. plan for Mideast peace that the PA is still maintaining its policy and not calling for civil disobedience that would surely bring about clashes with Israeli troops.
"Abbas is committed to peace," Abu Rudeineh said. “The peace agreement we had reached in Oslo in 1993 with Prime Minister [Yitzhak] Rabin, [then-Foreign Minister Shimon] Peres and every Israeli prime minister since, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was constructed on the basis that there would be a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The Palestinian official said that is a basis for an ever-lasting peace, and if the next government installed in Jerusalem is prepared to proceed along those lines, "I am sure we can reach an agreement in the space of two weeks."
Abu Rudeineh blamed the current U.S. administration for pushing both Israel and the Palestinians into perpetuating their conflict.
"The Trump plan will only lead to bloodshed," he said. “We tell every Israeli prime minister and every American president we are pleased if you hope to resolve our problem, that is a good start, but if we are to solve the conflict we have to sit down and talk."
"These are difficult times," Abu Rudeineh said. “Everyone is waiting for the results of both the Israeli and the American elections, and the lack of confidence is seen in Gaza and Southern Lebanon."
He insisted the Palestinian Authority seeks peace but said the Israeli government refuses to hold any talks because they are hoping for a solution that will keep the occupation in place forever, "and this we cannot agree to.”
Regarding Netanyahu's claims of normalization with the Arab world, Abu Rudeineh was skeptical. "This will not bring you peace and you have to live with the Palestinians and not the Omanis or the Sudanese," he said.
"Abbas truly wants a lasting peace," he said. "There will never be a Palestinian leader that will accept the American plan. Since it was revealed Arabs everywhere are with us and no one has supported the U.S. proposal."
Abu Rudeineh also warned the U.S. is creating a dangerous situation and the Israeli government will have to understand that no negotiations at all will create more problems. "No one will feel safe in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. We must go back to talking about the occupied land and Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. That must be the starting point."
Mahmoud al-Habash, adviser on religious affairs to President Abbas and head of the Sharia courts in the Palestinian Authority, was defiant when speaking to the Israeli journalists. "The plight of the Palestinians has existed for 100 years and could continue for 100 more,” he said. "Netanyahu is leading you on when he said he is normalizing relations with the Arab world. Everyone is with us. All Arabs, all Muslims."
What do you want?" he asked. "My parents and their families had lived in Ashkelon for centuries - not decades like your settlers, they are prepared to give up their hope to return, but what price are the Israelis willing to pay for peace? Peace must come with a price and giving us back the land you occupy is not a price you will be paying, it is justice."
Abbas’ close aide warned that “if the two-state solution is buried for good – more Palestinians will demand one binational state.
“After Oslo, a rightwing extremist assassinated Rabin, then [late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat was killed by you. Thirteen million Palestinians believe their leader was killed by Israel."
Ashraf al-Ajrami, who served as the minister for prisoners' affairs in the PA, warned the street is becoming restless. "If there is annexation [in the West Bank], the PA will have to make its own decisions and security cooperation will have to stop."
The final Palestinian official to speak with the journalists was Elias Zananiri, Vice-Chairman of the PLO Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society. He was even less ambiguous in his warning.
"If there is one-sided annexation, there will be no more governance by the PA. You will have to deal with every mains burst, every sewage problem, and the military will have to retake all of the West Bank. Israel holds the key to what happens next and the threat of violence is ever-present.”
First published: 20:53 , 02.17.20