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Palestinian leadership still left guessing on Trump's vision for the peace process

June 4, 2017 2:34 P.M. (Updated: June 7, 2017 3:50 P.M.)
US President Donald Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The United States government has remained elusive regarding “the vision” of US President Donald Trump for Israel and Palestine, the relaunching of peace negotiations, and ending the 50-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinian leadership guessing, according to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Wassil Abu Yousif.

Abu Yousif told Ma’an on Saturday that Trump “hasn’t suggested any clarifications or solutions” regarding his vision of a solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, noting that Palestinian leadership was still waiting for details of “the ultimate deal” that Trump has boasted about.

Any future peace negotiations must be conducted on basis of three points, Abu Yousif said. The process must be conducted in accordance with international law -- especially laws regulated by the UN General Assembly, a time limit must be determined for the end of the occupation, and there must be an “immediate halt of all types of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, including settlement activity, collective punishments, and ethnic cleansing.”

“Palestinian leadership doesn't aim to manage the conflict, but to solve it and to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands,” Abu Yousif said.

He also demanded a stop to “all types of Palestinian-Israeli coordination,” which he said was “unfair to Palestinians.”

Under the Palestinian Authority’s widely criticized security coordination with Israel, PA security forces’ regularly arrest Palestinian suspects wanted by Israel, suppress Palestinian protests, and share intelligence with the Israeli army, which has been denounced as a revolving door policy of funneling Palestinian activists between Israeli and PA jails for the same offenses.

Abu Yousif stressed the US bias towards Israel, and accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to “maintain the current situation to reinforce settlement activity and escalate collective punishment.”

According to Abu Yousif, Palestinian officials have been planning on forming a joint Palestinian-American committee “to shape the Palestinian ideologies of any peace process,” though the committee hasn’t been formed yet.

While Trump has maintained on many occasions that, under his auspices, the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be solved, his administration has painted a rather unclear picture regarding Trump’s plans in the region.

Last week, Trump signed a presidential waiver delaying the implementation of a congressional decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite his campaign promises to do so.

The highly controversial promise, which was celebrated by Israeli officials, would have been seen as the first step to a drastic abdication of longstanding US policy that has largely adhered to international standards on Israel-Palestine, which maintains East Jerusalem as an intricate part of occupied Palestinian territory and the capital of any future Palestinian state, despite Israel’s illegal annexation of the territory.

On the issue of Palestine, Trump said in February that when it came to a solution for the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict he could “live with either” a one- or two-state solution, in a significant departure from the US’ publicly held position in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict.

Protests erupted across the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip in protest of Trump’s brief visit to Israel and the West Bank last month, as a growing number of Palestinians have expressed disillusionment over peace talks brokered by consecutive US administrations that have simultaneously pledged billions in military aid to Israel.
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