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PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas rejects all negotiations with the US if Jerusalem and refugee problem are off the table

Official PA TV, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the opening event of the Jerusalem the Capital of the Islamic Youth 2018 conference, held by the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (an affiliate of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) at the PA headquarters in Ramallah

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “Not only have [the Americans] taken Jerusalem off the table, but they have also spoken about UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) in order to take the issue of the refugees off the table, while they caused the refugee problem. They are the central problem for the refugee problem. Nevertheless, they said: ‘The refugees are off the table, let’s talk together.’ What will we talk about? If you have taken out the refugees and Jerusalem, what will we talk to you about? We will not talk to you under any circumstances! There are issues that we agree on: the vision of two states on the 1967 borders, East Jerusalem our capital. Afterwards we will sit around the table to discuss the rest of the issues. If you want to, you are welcome. If you don’t want to, we won’t be with you. (lifts up a pen) The decision is ours and this is the pen that signs. No one signs on our behalf.”

On Jan. 25, 2018, US President Donald Trump held a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Referring to how he officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, 2017, Trump told Netanyahu: "We took Jerusalem off the table.” When asked by a reporter whether Jerusalem being “off the table" meant that none of it would be part of a future Palestinian state, Trump refused to elaborate, responding: "Next question." Trump also said that the US would stop providing financial aid to the PA if they did not return to negotiations with Israel.

In early January 2018, the US froze two planned payments to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) for more than $100 million, and the US administration spoke about the need to reexamine and conduct a reform of the UN body. This occurred after the PA refused to negotiate with Israel and cut diplomatic ties with America following US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Dec. 6, 2017.