Palestinians May Be Open to Trump Peace Plan, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Palestinian Authority will keep an open mind about Donald Trump’s forthcoming peace plan if it meets all its demands, even if the U.S. president doesn’t explicitly revoke his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a top Palestinian official said Wednesday.

If the U.S. plan backs a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 boundaries, with its capital in east Jerusalem, “we are ready to sit at the table and negotiate immediately,” Information Minister and presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told foreign journalists in Ramallah. Such positions would mean Trump has in effect backtracked on his support for Israeli claims in Jerusalem, even if he doesn’t say so outright, Abu Rudeineh said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected those contours for a Palestinian state.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut off all diplomatic contact with the U.S. after Trump’s December 2017 Jerusalem decision. Angered by Abbas’s refusal to engage, Trump slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in American subsidies to the Palestinians and called for sweeping changes at the United Nations agency that cares for Palestinian refugees.

Those moves have made it impossible for Palestinians to accept the U.S. as the sole peace broker, Abu Rudeineh said. Instead, he called for a bloc of world powers -- similar to the one that negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal -- to sponsor the peace process.

State of the Union

Abu Rudeineh noted the applause from U.S. legislators during Tuesday’s State of the Union address when Trump mentioned his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but said it was easily understandable.

“All of them are running for the Jewish money, the fund raising,” he said. He also cited the influence of “fake Christians” on Trump -- a reference to Evangelicals -- “telling him stories that aren’t in the Bible.”

Asked about former army chief Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main challenger in April elections, Abu Rudeineh said Palestinians didn’t yet know him well. He said Gantz’s comments this week, opposing a unilateral withdrawal from Israel’s West Bank settlements, were “encouraging.”

Abu Rudeineh dismissed next week’s U.S.-sponsored summit in Warsaw, where Trump envoy Jared Kushner reportedly will update participants on the peace plan ahead of its expected rollout in coming months. The Palestinian Authority was not invited to the summit, he said.

“They are not allowed to talk about the Palestinian issue in our absence,” he said.

“Any plan from Kushner or Trump or anybody will be doomed to fail immediately” if it doesn’t meet Palestinian demands, Abu Rudeineh said. However, he said, “if they are willing to do this -- believe me, it will solve all the issues in the Middle East.”

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