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Palestinian Presidency Refrains from Criticizing Joint US-Qatari Statement

Palestinian Presidency Refrains from Criticizing Joint US-Qatari Statement

Monday, 21 September, 2020 - 09:00
Palestinians protest in the West Bank against settlements and normalization with Israel. Reuters file photo

The Palestinian presidency has distanced itself from officials criticizing a joint US-Qatari statement on the importance of returning to negotiations with Israel in line with the US vision for peace known as the “deal of the century”.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, issued a short statement stressing that the “official Palestinian position is only released via the website of the Palestine News and Information Agency (WAFA).”

Abu Rudaineh’s statement came after a number of Palestinian officials attacked Qatar.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abbas refused to condemn Qatar’s move and instructed officials to refrain from doing so.

Abbas’ position stirred a debate on whether the joint statement adopts the US peace vision, which Palestinians are supposed to reject altogether.

Last week’s statement came after the third Strategic Dialogue between the US and Qatar, co-chaired by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani.

“Both sides discussed the need to employ diplomatic means to resolve the current tensions in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. The two governments discussed issues of regional security, including joint efforts to defeat ISIS; working toward peace and an end to the conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen; political developments in Iraq; and prospects for a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as outlined in the US Vision for Peace.”

It is not clear why the Palestinian presidency refrained from criticizing Qatar, and whether it had been promised political and financial incentives.

In response to the position of the presidency, WAFA news agency deleted excerpts from the statement of PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani, in which he attacked Qatar.

Wafa initially published Majdalani's statement accusing Qatar of endorsing the Trump plan, “which is rejected by the Palestinians and the international community.”

Other committee members, namely Taysir Khaled and Bassam al-Salhi, also attacked the Qatari position.

Khaled denounced Doha's support for the US peace vision, and called on Qatari officials to distance themselves from the policy of covering up US aggression against Palestinian national interests and rights.

He demanded Qatar to end this "collusion" with the Trump administration.

Salihi said that Qatar has become the first Arab country to officially endorse the Trump peace plan.

The joint US-Qatar statement is a very dangerous development that confirms the importance of expediting the implementation of all that was agreed upon in the last meeting of the Palestinian factions, according to Salhi.

He stressed the importance of mobilizing the Palestinian people to confront dangers and renew the national project.

A senior official from the Palestinian People’s Party, Walid al-Awad, said that Qatar’s endorsement of the Trump deal is an announcement that it has decided to join the countries that normalized relations with Israel.

Prior to the presidency's statement, Hamas politburo member Musa Abu Marzouk stated that Qatar was trying to help the Palestinian people in various ways.

Marzouk said that Qatar can only help the Palestinians, specifically Gazans, through talks with the occupation, noting that it is necessary that Doha communicates with Israel.

His statements sparked criticism, with some stating that it was not possible to attack countries that normalize relations with Israel while justifying normalization for other states.

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