Erekat Accuses U.S. of Trying to Overthrow Palestinian Authority

(Bloomberg) -- A top Palestinian official accused the U.S. of trying to overthrow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in an attempt to discredit an American peace mission it is shunning.

The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority broke off contact with the U.S. in December over its Jerusalem policy, and has not been party to the meetings that negotiators Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have conducted with Middle East leaders this week. The envoys are trying to drum up support for the Palestinian economy, and especially the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, reasoning that greater prosperity will create more conducive conditions for peacemaking.

The PA sees the mission as an attempt to divide and weaken the Palestinians. On Saturday, Palestine Liberation Organization secretary general Saeb Erekat accused the U.S. of “creating a state of destabilization and confusion in the West Bank” in order to “target the leadership.” A proposal to redirect to Gaza the tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority is meant to sustain Hamas’s violent takeover of the territory, “while bringing down the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank,” he told Voice of Palestine radio, according to the official Wafa news agency.

Erekat’s comments were some of the harshest toward the U.S. since relations disintegrated in December over President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, whose eastern sector the Palestinians seek as a future capital. Earlier Saturday, Abbas’s spokesman said the Trump team’s mission to the Middle East will run into a dead end if it tries to dodge political issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians want the focus to be on resolving issues such as borders, the status of the holy city and refugees, and not on bolstering the economies of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement on Saturday.

“The American administration must understand the important need to stop pursuing imaginary political alternatives and projects aimed at splitting the Palestinian homeland to prevent the establishment of our Palestinian state,” Abu Rudeina said.

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