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How Abbas can tilt Trump's deal in Palestinians' favor

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should play the US negotiation team's game and demand that the United States follow UNSC Resolution 1515 that was adopted unanimously, instead of refusing negotiations.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks during a welcoming ceremony for Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela, in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman - RC1B8EF1CC30
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In diplomacy, as in sports, a team that refuses to play against a rival for political reasons forfeits the game without the other team having to lift a finger or raise a leg. That is what the Palestinian team can expect if its captain persists in his refusal to enter the negotiating arena with Israel. This scenario, and perhaps its anticipation, can be discerned from comments made in recent weeks by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and special envoy Jared Kushner and the administration’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. In an interview on June 24 with the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper, Kushner explained, “To make a deal, both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions.” Referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he added, “I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.”

In a June 10 article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Greenblatt addressed the Palestinian leadership, stating that “the time for leadership and responsibility is now.” Greenblatt argued that the Palestinian claim that the United States is not an essential partner in any peace process is a “mirage,” as is the idea that Israel will disappear or that Jerusalem will not be its capital. “The reality is that there is an opportunity for peace at hand, and that President Trump and his administration are working to help facilitate a peace that will open up the future of the Palestinian people, if they and their leadership have the courage to seize it,” Greenblatt added. He lashed out at chief Palestinian negotiator and PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat. “We have heard your voice for decades and it has not achieved anything close to Palestinian aspirations or anything close to a comprehensive peace agreement.”

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