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Abbas on deteriorating relationship with the US

Official PA TV, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to Fatah's Advisory Committee meeting on the 31st anniversary of the first Intifada – a Palestinian wave of violence and terror against Israel in which approximately 200 Israelis were murdered

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: "Our political situation is grave. When [US] President [Donald] Trump rose to power, I met with him four times – once at the White House, once in Saudi Arabia, once in Bethlehem, and once in New York. The last time I saw him, in New York, we were [part of] a Palestinian delegation and an American delegation. We spoke about politics for half an hour. We solved the Palestinian problem. Believe me, we solved it because we began- I said to him: 'Mister President, you say two states or one state; what do you mean?' He said to me: 'As you see, two states or a state.' I said to him: 'Let me explain to you, [the possibilities are] an apartheid state’ – as there is now – ‘or a state with "one man, one vote," [a state of all of] its citizens, and Israel cannot do this and we cannot agree to apartheid, and therefore there is one solution and it is two states.' He said to me: ‘I’m in favor of the two-state solution.’ [I said:] ‘Our land was occupied in 1967 and we are ready for [territory] swaps of the same scope.' He said to me: 'Wonderful.' [I said:] 'If the Israelis are concerned about security, we are willing to accept a third force from the world. Let NATO come and be between us and the Israelis.' He said to me: 'Excellent. Check how many soldiers you have, head of national security.' We put the issue of the refugees on the table and I showed him the significance of the refugees and the significance of the Arab Peace Initiative. OK. I left him with us agreeing completely. I had to call him [and say] I am ready. Two weeks later, he closed our [PLO] office in Washington, announced the transfer of the [US] Embassy to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and cancelled the aid to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), and his ambassador here with us [US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman] says that the settlement enterprise is one of Israel's rights as this is its country, and it was as if there had been nothing. Our response was that we are cutting off relations with the US. 'What? You are cutting off relations? Who are you? Who do you represent?' I represent my right. You are harming my right, you are selling it, you are conceding the most important thing and this is not your right, and it is Jerusalem the capital of Israel – which is occupied land – and it is the capital of our state. There is no discussion between us, and we cut off relations with them. Friends, nobody is speaking with the Americans. [They say about the Palestinians] that they dare not to speak to the US. [The Americans] said: 'Be patient with us, we have the deal of the century (referring to Trump's as yet unpublished Middle East peace plan –Ed.) – we will publish it within two, three weeks, a month.' I said to him: 'What deal of the century? You have not published the deal of the century, it is over. What is left of it? If Jerusalem is gone, the land is gone, the borders are gone, the refugees are gone, and the aid is gone, nothing is left.  Where is the deal of the century that you want to talk about? Do you want to make a laughingstock of me?' No, we do not recognize that there is any longer a deal of the century, we do not recognize a deal of the century at all, but don't make a laughingstock of us. We are continuing the disconnect [with the US]. Until this day we do not speak with them. We have traveled to the US- I traveled to the [UN] Security Council, I gave a speech, and I continued in my travels, and until now that is the position. However, we are not dogmatic. I do not want some intermediary to come – there are so many of them – [and ask] 'OK, what do you want from the Americans?' First of all, the US must rescind [its decision] about Jerusalem and rescind [its decision] about UNRWA. Congress must- by the way, Congress has issued 27 decisions according to which we are terrorists – let me put that aside for a moment – and the American administration acted based on this. I said to him: 'Let Congress tell me how we are terrorists, and this is in light of the fact that we are working with them in the war on terror,’ and not just solely with the US. We have 83 protocols with 83 states [that deal with] the war on terror. 'Tell me, how am I a terrorist, and answer me.' Of course he didn't answer me, and we adhere to our position and refuse to talk to the US. If they agree and rescind [their decisions] on the points [I mentioned], we will talk to them. If Congress comes to sit with us, we will talk to them because in the end we are not dogmatic. Until now there is nothing. This is also – in order to complete the path – true regarding Israel. Israel is leaving nothing between us from which it does not deviate, beginning with the [1993] Oslo [Accords] – of course there are people that don't like Oslo. They closed Oslo, revoked Oslo, and with this the Paris Agreement (i.e., economic agreement between Israel and the PLO) and such. And we said: 'OK, as long as this is how it is, we will stop the relations with Israel.' However, in order not to completely close the door, and so as not to be dogmatic, we said there are a number of issues between us. Let’s begin with the first issue – they agreed about it? Fine. They didn't agree? We will go on to the second and third until we revoke everything between us, and whatever will be will be – including the security coordination – but it is going step by step. We began with the Paris Agreement – we said to them: 'Either amend it or we will revoke it.' They said: 'We will give you an answer.' Pay attention, this was a week–10 days ago. I said: 'No problem.' The Americans – between us there are organizations to which we don't belong. What does this mean? We – at the time we became observers at the UN a lot of people ridiculed us, of course, and said: 'An observer member? What is an observer member?’ In any case, when we became observer members in the UN, it was also our right to belong to 522 international organizations. This is a right. We began, we began and began until we had achieved 90 agreements – now 115 – but when we reached 90, [former US President Barack] Obama grabbed me and said to me: 'Mahmoud Abbas, where'- he had a reception; he took me aside. [PLO Executive Committee Secretary and Fatah Central Committee member] Dr. Saeb [Erekat] was with me. [Obama] asked me: 'Where are you going?' I said to him: 'What?’ He said to me: 'You are joining all of the [international] organizations.' I said to him: 'Yes, but there are organizations that are harming us.' He said: 'Which? There are 22 organizations.' I said to him: 'OK, in other words you don't want us to join them?' He said: 'No.' We said to him: 'OK, don't come near our embassy.' He said: 'I am prepared.' [We said:] 'Don't transfer your embassy [to Jerusalem].' He said: I am prepared.' [We said:] ‘Don't let the aid you are giving us stop.' He said: 'I am prepared.' [I said:] 'Write all of this down.' He wrote it down. I said: 'Excellent.' Twenty-two organizations that can be waited for, because we have 522 organizations. In any case, we went- We fought them, and afterwards we went to Interpol – Interpol was one of the 22. I did not know they were one of the 22; I went and submitted a request [to join] and we succeeded…

[Israel and the US] are two, and now the third – Hamas. We have reached some kind of agreement with Hamas. You know about it. The latest agreement was on Oct. 2, 2017. Suddenly they called us, our Egyptian brothers, and said to me: 'We will make a reconciliation [agreement].' [I asked:] 'With whom?' They said: 'With Hamas.' I said that we are ready. [They asked:] 'What do you need?' We said: 'Write it down. First, that they revoke their government, their administration, their administrative committee, whatever. [Second,] our government – which we assembled together with them, [and] which is the national unity government – will come to Gaza and will receive everything and act as it does in the West Bank. Third, we will go to elections for the [PA] Parliament and presidency and whatever they want. Agreed?' They said yes, they agree. Immediately? Immediately. I said that it is illogical: 'My son, go see [if Hamas agrees].' He went and said to me that they agree. I said as long as they agree, that's it. Of course, the result of this agreement and going to Gaza is that they placed an explosive device for [PA] Prime Minister [Rami Hamdallah] and [Head of PA General Intelligence in the West Bank] Majed Faraj. What is that? Do they want a reconciliation, or to kill prime ministers? No, they said that it was Majed Faraj who placed it. Look, Majed Faraj placed it himself in order to blow himself up. We said to them: 'OK, we will not talk to you.' The Egyptians came again and said that they are ready to invest an effort and such. We said to them that we are ready, but now either it will be implemented and we will take responsibility for everything, or [Hamas] will take responsibility for everything, clear? And it became a slogan for us, 'Either, or.’ Of course nothing was implemented, and therefore we decided that we would begin gradually with them…

'OK. We are paying, you pay too. What do you want from us?' America and Israel – without talking about conspiracies, think about the meaning of this. But in short, shall I tell you what the meaning is? Leaving the existing situation – in other words, a state in Gaza and an autonomy in the West Bank forever, as implementation of the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) decision. Whoever reads the Balfour Promise is reading the same thing now. After 101 years, that is what is now being implemented. We are hearing these things from the senior Israeli officials: That you can dream about a state here – autonomy, civilian and religious, and be on your way – without borders, without sovereignty or anything, and Gaza can be a state. This is the project that they are implementing at the moment. Now, as I said, this is what is happening. The US suddenly came and said that we need to submit a plan to condemn Hamas as a terrorist [organization]. The brothers in the UN asked me what to do. I said to them: 'Look, [Hamas] is part of our people and I will not allow anyone to say something about them, and I’ve said 100 times that if they ask me if Hamas is terrorist, I say no. Hamas is a part of our people, and I do not agree. Therefore, start to work, comrades.' They worked and played the important game. They said that this decision would not pass, except with two thirds, OK?

It was voted on and fell, while actually the world intended and was determined to condemn Hamas for terror, as they took 87 votes and 20 [abstentions]. In other words, 120 votes. The vote took place and the American resolution failed. Ireland voted on (sic., proposed) a resolution for us, in other words, on the rights of the Palestinian people and the two-state solution and such; in any case we took 165 votes. Therefore, the world is with us as a people with rights, and at the same time is against Hamas. They do not understand, but I tell you – we defended our people. We do not like when they call one of our people 'terrorist.' Onward, we are moving [toward] these three, which are the US, with Israel, and with Hamas, undoubtedly. In other words, if Israel does not respond to us about the Paris Agreement, we will go to the next step – first we will revoke the Paris Agreement and go to the second step, until we reach the Oslo Accords that I signed – I am proud of them and my brother [PLO Executive Committee member and former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei] ‘Abu Alaa’ is also proud of them because he worked on them. However, if you [Israel] do not want [them], I don't want [them]…

The last point that I want to talk about is that despite the entire situation we are in, 83 states in the world need us on an issue that we are convinced about – we don’t do it because we’re being paid – and it is the war on terror. Why? Because we are an active, clever, and convinced people. If we were not convinced [about the justice of] the international war on terror- look at all of those that are allegedly acting and who have actually destroyed all of the Arab states and called it 'the Arab Spring.' We are fighting terror and are ready to continue fighting terror, but all of these states – the 83 – [need] to thank, thank, and thank the PA for its efforts. We are continuing in this, and not neglecting our right. When we cooperate with the Americans on this, all is well. However, when they sell Jerusalem we say that Jerusalem is not for sale and we will not allow it."

Visual:  Text on stage backdrop: “The Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fatah Advisory Committee, First Session – ‘The Session of Our Capital Jerusalem’

Ramallah, Dec. 9, 2018

Thirty-first anniversary of the Stone Intifada (i.e., Palestinian wave of violence and terror against Israel, approximately 200 Israelis murdered, 1987-1993) – The creative Palestinian resistance activity”

PLO US office closure - On Sept. 10, 2018,the US State Department announced the closure of the PLO US office, saying that there was no indication that the Palestinians had entered into meaningful negotiations with Israel. This was subsequent to the Trump administration announcing on Nov. 17, 2017, that the PLO has violated a 2015 Congressional mandate, which states that the PLO cannot operate an office in Washington if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against the Palestinians. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson determined that the Palestinians violated this mandate in September 2017, when PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called on the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Israelis while speaking at the UN.

US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel - On Dec. 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump added that the final borders of Jerusalem will be determined during negotiations. The US embassy was transferred from Tel Aviv and opened in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, the anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence in 1948 according to the Gregorian calendar.

US President Donald Trump's administration announced on Aug. 31, 2018 that it was immediately cutting all $360 million of annual American funding to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). Explaining the decision, the US State Department said, "The fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation."

The move came after the US froze two planned payments to UNRWA in early January 2018 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.

Saeb Erekat also holds the position of PLO Chief Negotiator.

Paris Agreement – agreement on economic relations between Israel and the PLO, signed in Paris on April 29, 1994. Its main goal is to promote peace by establishing economic relations modeled on EU economic relations.

The Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917 was a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Baron Rothschild stating that "His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." In 1922, the League of Nations adopted this and made the British Mandate "responsible for putting into effect the declaration," which led to the UN vote in favor of partitioning Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947. In response, Britain ended its mandate on May 15, 1948, and the Palestinian Jews, who accepted the Partition Plan, declared the independent State of Israel. The Palestinian Arabs rejected the plan and together with 7 Arab states attacked Israel, in what is now known as Israel's War of Independence.

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