Ross: At White House Meeting, Trump Must Push Abbas to End Financial Support of Palestinian Terrorists and Their Families


President Donald Trump boosted the “relevancy” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by inviting him to Washington for a White House meeting this week and now needs to lean on the Palestinian leader to take “hard steps” —  including an end of payments to terrorists and their families, a veteran US diplomat said on Monday.

In a conference call organized by The Israel Project, Ambassador Dennis Ross — who has worked on Middle East issues for numerous administrations since the Carter era and is now the William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy — said Abbas had been in the doldrums before being summoned by Trump.

Arab leaders, including King Abdullah of Jordan, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt and the heads of the Gulf states had all been marginalizing Abbas, Ross pointed out.

“But Trump has made him more relevant again, which is important at a time when he doesn’t have much popularity within the PA,” Ross noted.

Ross argued that the conditions for a revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process could hardly be less opportune. “I don’t think we’ve ever been at a lower point, not because of violence,  but because the level of disbelief between two sides has never been greater,” he said. “More than 60 percent of Israelis want a two-state outcome, but over 90 percent don’t believe it will happen.”

Ross explained that if Trump was serious about pursuing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, he should avoid a “big initiative” that could end in failure and mutual recriminations.

Trump would also, Ross said, have to “make difficult asks of both sides.”

For Abbas, that would mean a pledge to end financial backing of two PA foundations that give money to Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israeli prisons, as well as their families. The foundations receive an annual sum of $300 million — nearly 8 percent of the PA’s total budget.

Ross did not make light of the political difficulties that would face Abbas if he was to make such a decision, not least regarding the present hunger strike involving two-thirds of Palestinian prisoners from the Fatah faction — led by Abbas rival Marwan Barghouti, the head of Fatah’s Tanzim armed wing and co-founder of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades who is jailed for life in Israel after being convicted on five murder counts in 2004.

Such a request by Trump would leave Abbas feeling “defensive,” Ross said. “But Trump needs to be able to say to him, you don’t have to produce something by tomorrow, but you have to produce it at some point, if I am going to invest in doing something on this issue,” Ross continued.

Ross also discussed another concession which he said Trump should obtain from Abbas. The Palestinian leader, according to Ross, “has to recognize the historic Jewish connection to the land and to Jerusalem, that there are two national movements, and two national identities,” in keeping with the declared goal of “two states for two peoples.”

Ross disputed the notion that there were alternatives to the two-state formula. “I’m not sure the administration’s real position is to move away from a ‘two state’ outcome,” he said. The Trump White House’s contacts with Arab leaders have been a key factor here, Ross observed.

“Trump wants a bigger deal involving the Arab states, which can provide a kind of cover for Abu Mazen (Abbas) as well as for the Israelis, who are convinced that any concessions they make to the Palestinians won’t be reciprocated, so they need to get something from the Arabs,” Ross said. “The Arab states won’t play a role in a process that leads to a Palestinian entity wrapped in an Israeli state — they just won’t.”

Ross repeatedly emphasized the high stakes that Abbas faces. He said the Palestinian leader is seen by the vast majority of Palestinians as ineffective in securing concessions from Israel, and at the same time the PA has lost legitimacy because of the corruption that prevails among its top figures. “He frequently seems to stand aloof from the Palestinian people,” Ross said. “Two-thirds of them would like him to leave.”

The Trump-Abbas White House sit-down on Wednesday comes amid heightened tensions between the Fatah-controlled PA in the West Bank and the Islamist terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The refusal of Hamas to give in to Abbas’ effort to regain control of the coastal enclave — which Hamas violently took over in 2007 — led the PA to inform Israel last week that it would no longer pay for Gaza’s electricity supply.

May 2, 2017 | 7 Comments » | 136 views

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  1. Haredi Community 4 yeshiva students stabbed in southern Israel

    4 yeshiva students stabbed in southern Israel
    Local man breaks into Netivot yeshiva, attacks students.

    Four students in a yeshiva in Netivot were wounded Tuesday when a local man broke into the building and attacked those inside.

    The incident occurred inside the Beit Avraham kollel yeshiva on Malachei Yisrael Street in Netivot just before noon Tuesday.

    Three of the victims have been listed in moderate condition, while a fourth was lightly injured. The victims in moderate condition range in age from roughly 70-years old to approximately 50 and 45-years old.

    Police say the attacker, an Israeli man residing in Netivot, was also lightly injured during the incident.

    MDA emergency responders were called to the scene after the attack. The injured were treated on site before being evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva.

    Authorities say the attack appears to be criminal rather than terror-related.

    Was he an Arab? Israelis can’t be Arabs? It can’t be terror related unless he shouts Allahu Akhbar or something? Might it have been have been “workplace violence?” Come on. I expect better from A7.

    Ultra-Orthodox Jew pulls a knife out of his own neck and uses it to kill Palestinian who had stabbed him during day of carnage that saw three attacks on Israelis
    Palestinian attacker had followed ultra-Orthodox Jew into a wine shop
    He then stabbed him multiple times in a ‘frenzied attack’ in Petah Tikva
    At one point, he managed to break away while shop owner hit the attacker
    Jewish man then returned, pulled knife out his neck, and stabbed attacker
    Elsewhere, an American tourist was killed and several people seriously wounded by an attacker in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv on a day of carnage
    See more of the latest news updates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline
    PUBLISHED: 16:32 EDT, 8 March 2016

    I googled: how many knife attacks have there been by Jews in Israel and this is the only one that came up on the first page. SZ

    Read more:

    So, maddening, it undoes every correction. If I delete something it puts it back in, if I scroll down, it jumps back. Repeatedly until it takes or it doesn’t. And the block quotes don’t work properly. Impossible to use.

    metaphor and inappropriate gallows humor alert:

    Little Murders 1971 HD Theatrical Trailer Elliott Gould Marcia Rodd Vincent Gardenia

  2. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    And in yesterday’s news:

    “Police close 2 internal probes against officers who shot terrorists
    Investigations into two officer-involved shootings in 2015, one of a teenage terrorist in Jerusalem and the other of an allegedly unstable woman who threatened to stab passersby at a bus station in northern Israel, closed citing justifiable use of force.

    Yair Altman, Itsik Saban and Israel Hayom Staff

    Scene of the Jerusalem shooting | Photo credit: Noam Revkin-Fenton

    The Police Internal Investigations Department on Sunday decided to close two officer-involved shooting probes, citing justifiable use of force. Both cases involved thwarting terrorist attacks.

    The first case involved an attempted stabbing attack in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem on Oct. 17, 2015, when a 16-year-old Palestinian terrorist tried to stab a policeman.

    The shooting was investigated because the terrorist was a minor.

    The policeman fought off his assailant, who came at him a second time, knife in hand, and attempted to stab him again, which was when the policeman opened fire and killed him, the internal investigation found.

    The second case involved the shooting of Asra Abid, 29, who threatened to stab passersby at the Afula Central Bus Station in northern Israel on Oct. 9, 2015.

    Abid, who was shot in the leg, later confessed she tried to provoke the border police officers securing the bus station to kill her, so she could “die a martyr’s death.”

    Her family later claimed she was mentally unstable. Abid was sentenced to six months in prison for the attempted attack.

    “As the police officers’ testimony, saying they opened fire only once they felt their lives were in immediate danger, is backed by the evidence, and as the fire was aimed at the lower extremities, there is no reason to suspect a criminal shooting,” the internal investigation found.

    Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit signed off on the decision to close both cases.”

    Awww, well sure, she musta been unstable if she wanted to die a martyr’s death. Have to be very careful of how you shoot an “unstable” person, don’tcha?

    Oh, and gosh, a minor!

    After I complained to a liquor store owner that they must have child-proofed the Tequila bottle because it was too hard to open, he opined piously that it’s important to keep the stuff away from minors. I turned away to leave for a moment and then I turned back and said, “listen, for purposes of buying liquor, you’re a child if you’re one day under the age of 21; your average 19-year-old would have an easier time opening this bottle than you or I!

    According to my father, most of the Arrow Cross murderers roaming the streets killing Jews during the siege of Budapest seemed to be about 15 or 16 years old! As were Pol Pot’s killer soldiers in Cambodia decades later and the child soldiers in various recent African genocides.. They murdered millions. My father had just turned 20.

  3. Requiring the Arab leadership to stop supporting the Arab terrorists in prison and their families is symbolic but not an issue of importance to Israel. Trump is a serious person, and should not waste his efforts of issues which are not game-changers.
    Trump should just simply tell Abbas:
    Mr. Abbas, before I get involved, convince me of two things: 1) you are CAPABLE of making a deal with Israel which will be kept by the Arabs, and 2) the you are WILLING to do so.
    Mr. Abbas, an absolutely necessary FIRST step is to STOP ALL INCITEMENT, in the streets, in the Mosques, in the schools, in the Arab media – as promised by Arafat in the first Oslo agreement and was never kept.

  4. Part of the equation is known already. Hamas has no intention to recognize Israel. Abbas is irrelevant.
    Iran/Syria ax must be downgraded and put under severe pressure to behave. Two regimes changes need to take place: Iran and Syria.
    Putin keeps Russia on the wrong side of history. He cares less.

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