Makes no mention of concessions agreed to by Abbas
On May 7, 2017, the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam published a detailed article on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud ‘Abbas’s May 3 visit in Washington, titled “The Secrets and Details of President [‘Abbas’s] Visit and Talks in the U.S. Capital.” The article, by the daily’s U.S. correspondent ‘Abd Al-Rauf Arnaut, described ‘Abbas’s meetings with American officials as relaxed, and the hosts’ reception of ‘Abbas and his delegation as warm and respectful.
The article presented lengthy quotes from ‘Abbas himself about his meeting with Trump. According to ‘Abbas, he clarified to Trump that the Arabs oppose terrorism, no matter its type or its source, and that the Palestinians support a two-state solution rather than a two-state solution. He presented the Arab peace initiative as a basis for peace between Israel and the entire Arab world following an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, and focused on the need to find a creative solution for the refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194,stressing that otherwise it would not be possible to end the conflict. ‘Abbas also presented Trump with maps showing the history of Palestine from 1937, in order to demonstrate the steady contraction of the territories intended for the Palestinians and the vital need to halt construction in the settlements.
The following are excerpts from the article:
“This wasn’t President ‘Abbas’s first visit to the White House, but it was different in its details from all the previous visits. After Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, Arab officials and analysts hurried to say that the Palestinians had become “irrelevant”, but within 100 days [of the election], the relations and the chemistry between the Palestinian and U.S. presidents developed to a point that [proved them] shamefully .
“President Trump and his team were unfamiliar to the Palestinians, since, unlike previous [U.S.] presidents, such as George Bush Jr. and Barack Obama, they did not emerge from the American [political] establishment. In contrast to some leaders of Palestinian factions who criticized the new U.S. president based on Israeli statements, President ‘Abbas opted for a quiet diplomacy whose results became evident later, during his visit to the White House, which he has characterized as successful.
“After talking a great deal about the cold shoulder turned to ‘Abbas by the new inhabitant of the White House, and the implications [of this attitude], analysts found themselves faced with a sight that even many Palestinian officials had not imagined they would see. [Thanks to preparatory] measures and arrangements that preceded the meeting at the White House, a new bond was formed that is bound to become [even] clearer during Trump’s visit to Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.
“President ‘Abbas said: “The visit was preceded by several [preparatory measures]. About six weeks ago, after Trump entered the White House, the head of the Palestinian intelligence service, Maj. Gen. Majid Faraj, was invited to Washington for a meeting with his American counterpart, and he indeed came there and met with many U.S. political and military officials. [Gen. Faraj] returned with a lot of information, indicating that a new era had dawned in Washington and that we could expect new developments because there was a new [president] in that country who might present fresh ideas regarding the Palestinian issue. We were very pleased with this [preliminary] meeting.
“In a closed meeting with Arab ambassadors to Washington, [‘Abbas] said: “Immediately after that, shortly after the appointment of Mike Pompeo as Director of the CIA [on January 23, 2017], we were told he would come for a visit [in the PA] and he indeed came to Ramallah and we held lengthy meetings with him. He is an experienced man, for he was a member of Congress, so our cause was not unfamiliar to him, although we may have had to fill him in on some of the details. At the end of the meeting, he said: ‘I will now go [straight] to the airport and [fly to] Washington, for I want to present the minutes of this meeting to President Trump, who has a meeting scheduled tonight with Binyamin Netanyahu.’
“The CIA director was the first [U.S. official] to meet with the [Palestinian] president… and even though certain elements tried to claim that the contacts between the Palestinians and Americans were [confined to] the security level, these contacts continued on the diplomatic level [as well].
“President [‘Abbas] said: ‘The second step came one week later, when President Trump called me. This was the first time he called [me. He] greeted me and then invited me to the White House, saying, ‘I’ve heard all sorts of things about you, but I want to hear more from you, because I want to find a solution to the [Palestinian-Israeli] conflict. He repeated his invitation several times, and then told me that he had a great deal of confidence in several of his aides, including Jason Greenblatt, and that he would soon send [Greenblatt] to us so we could talk with him.’
“The [next] step was [indeed] a meeting between United States Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and President ‘Abbas in Ramallah. President ‘Abbas said: ‘Greenblatt arrived and I had a lengthy and comprehensive meeting with him, because I assumed he needed to learn the details. I [recounted all the developments] from Oslo until today, step by step, and described the entire Palestinian issue in full. Then I tried to answer all the questions I figured he might have, and when I was done he indeed said, “I have nothing left to ask, this was a useful meeting.”‘
“The [next] step was a meeting between Greenblatt and President [‘Abbas] on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, at the periphery of the Arab League summit. President ‘Abbas said: ‘Greenblatt returned to Washington and then came back to [visit] us during the Arab League summit in Jordan, where he met with many Arab foreign ministers.’
“Concurrently, preparations for the [Trump-‘Abbas] summit were also made during the visit to Washington of a [Palestinian] delegation that included Dr. Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestinian intelligence service and PLO Executive Committee secretary-general Maj. Gen. Majid Faraj, and Dr. Muhammad Mustafa, President [‘Abbas’s] economic advisor. Preparations were also made at the level of the leaders of Palestine, Jordan and Egypt, all three of whom had been invited to the White House. President ‘Abbas said: “We had been invited [to Washington] and we prepared for the visit, but [even] before this, at the Arab [League] summit which was [dedicated to the issue of] Palestine, Jordan’s King ‘Abdallah II initiated a three-way meeting with Egyptian President ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi and myself so we would go to Washington with a single unified message. King [‘Abdallah] and President [Al-Sisi] had been invited [to Washington], but the date of my own visit had not yet been set. So the three of us met and discussed in detail the message we would present to Washington.’ He added: ‘King ‘Abdallah and President Al-Sisi [later] informed us about what had transpired [during their meetings] in Washington. They conveyed the same message, and that helped us a lot. Then it was decided that I would come here, to Washington, and I arrived, held some side meetings and then we went to the White House.'”
The Meeting With Jared Kushner
“Upon President ‘Abbas’s arrival in Washington, more meetings were held between the Palestinians and Americans. Far from the media, a first meeting took place between President ‘Abbas and Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner left a very positive impression on ‘Abbas, [who called him] ‘a polite man who wanted to gain a good understanding of the situation [and who] asked very polite questions about all the topics he wished to understand.’ This meeting was held on the eve of the president’s arrival at the White House.
“Up until the meeting at the White House, Palestinian officials differed in their assessments. Some expected a smooth and easy meeting while others were afraid of last-minute surprises.”
The Meeting With Trump
“The meeting went as Palestinian officials hoped it would, and was very positive, as was clearly evident from President [‘Abbas’s] reception at the White House.
“President [‘Abbas] naturally slept that night, after the long flight and because of the time-difference. The next morning he was cheerful as he prepared for his first visit to the White House during the Trump presidency. When he arrived, Trump met him at the door and accompanied him as he went to sign the guestbook. Then the two went into the Oval Office, and there, in the presence of the media, Trump greeted President ‘Abbas and shook his hand multiple times. Then they visited President Roosevelt’s historic office at the White House, where each delivered a statement, before shaking hands once again and turning to the Cabinet Room, where the U.S. cabinet holds its meetings.
“In the Cabinet Room, U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson sat to the left of the U.S. President and Vice President Mike Pence sat to his right. Also present at the meeting were U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster as well as Kushner, Greenblatt, the White House Chief of Staff, and U.S. Consul General [in Jerusalem] Donald Blome. Apart from ‘Abbas, the Palestinians present included Dr. Saeb Erekat, Gen. Majid Faraj, Dr. [Muhammad] Mustafa, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu ‘Amr, ‘Abbas’s advisors Nabil Abu Rudeineh and Majdi Al-Khalidi, and Palestinian ambassador to Washington Husam Zomlot.”
‘Abbas: This Is What Happened At The White House
“As for the details of the visit, ‘Abbas said: ‘After signing the guestbook and delivering our statements to the press, [Trump and I] sat down together and I made every effort to present our wishes and our ideas [to him]. I told him explicitly: We, the united Arab nation, all oppose terror and combat terror, of every type and from every source. [Terror] is alien to us as a nation, alien to our culture, and that is why we stand up against it. Secondly, as for the political situation, we Palestinians believe in the solution of two states, namely Israel, which already exists, and a Palestinian state that we want to establish in the 1967 borders, whose capital is East Jerusalem. I told [Trump], if someone gets it into his head to speak about a one-state [solution, you should know that] we opt for the two-state [solution]. But if someone [nevertheless] mentions the one-state [solution, you should know that] there are two options. [The first option] is a racist discriminatory state, in which there are two regimes, [one for Palestinians and another for Jews], as is the case today in the Palestinian territories. Obviously, we will never agree to this and nobody in the world will agree to it. [The second option] is a binational state. I believe that they [the Israelis] reject this [option] out of hand, and I have [in fact] heard this from [them] on more than one occasion. So we are left with the solution of two states: a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, and Israel. We want a state in those borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital’…
“‘Abbas then turned to explain the Arab peace initiative, using a one-page document prepared by the Palestinian president’s office, which included the details of the plan and the flags of the Arab countries that had approved it. President [‘Abbas] said: ‘I told Trump: We have the Arab initiative that was adopted at the 2002 Arab [League] summit in Beirut, which, in my opinion, is the most valuable initiative ever achieved for resolving the Palestinian problem. [The plan] is neither long nor complicated. It includes two main clauses.’ President [‘Abbas] explained to President [Trump] that the first clause says that if Israel withdraws from the Palestinian and Arab territories, all the Arab countries will be willing to form [diplomatic] ties with it, and that this initiative has been approved by more than one Arab capital and at many Arab and Muslim summits, for example in Istanbul, Iran and Pakistan…’ President ‘Abbas explained to the U.S. President that the flags on the document represented the countries that have approved the Arab peace initiative and have expressed willingness to recognize Israel if the latter withdraws from the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories.
“[‘Abbas also] explained to Trump that the [Arab] initiative proposed a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee problem based on [UN Resolution] 194. The problem needs to be solved in a creative way based on the UN resolutions, [he said]. It must be resolved in order to resolve the conflict… We insist on this solution [to the refugee problem] because do not want only a peace treaty between ourselves and Israel, we want to end the conflict between ourselves and the Israelis. If the refugee problem remains unresolved, the conflict will remain as well.’
Historical Map Of Palestine
“President ‘Abbas then presented the U.S. President with a map showing Palestine from 1937 until today, to demonstrate how the Israeli occupation is eating away at the Palestinian territories. He said: ‘The maps explain the Palestinian problem… starting with the map of historical Palestine, through the first partition plan of 1937, the second [partition plan] of 1947, and then 1948. What [territory] is left to us? In the end [we have only] what the Israelis have left the Palestinians [after] building their settlements in the Palestinian territories.’ ‘Abbas said, ‘If construction in the settlements continues… how will we be able to establish a Palestinian state? That is why we oppose the settlements and regard them as illegitimate. This should be the basis for handling them at the [negotiation] table.’
“This explanation took up about 15-20 minutes of the face-to-face meeting between the two presidents. Then the two went to the Cabinet Room, where the American and Palestinian teams joined them. In the Cabinet Room, the Palestinian officials spoke, each about his area [of expertise], and explained the Palestinian position on each issue.
“President ‘Abbas said: ‘To sum up, we felt that the man [Trump] was serious and is eager to find a solution soon. Indeed, we hope that this is the case. I told him that we are prepared to send a delegation to the U.S. immediately in order to start negotiations, as they see fit.’ He added: These are our basic [principles], these are our positions, and we are demanding no more than the [implementation of the] U.N. resolutions. I felt that President Trump is very willing to proceed, and I am very pleased about that. I am not saying that he agreed with me, but at least he listened to me with great interest and in a positive manner. I hope he was convinced [by me], but this takes time, and I think that he should know further details.’
“The observers were unanimous that President ‘Abbas received an unusually [warm] welcome in the White House. The Palestinian flag was prominently displayed in many places, especially in the historic Roosevelt Room, where it was stood behind the U.S. President as he gave his address. Several hours after the meeting, dozens of top U.S. officials and intellectuals in Washington, including the President’s harshest critics and representatives of organizations such as AIPAC, hurried to a large hall in the Mandarin Hotel in order to congratulate President ‘Abbas on the successful meeting. Many made sure to have their photo taken with him. The next day, there was another American surprise, when the White House announced that President Trump had accepted the invitation to visit the Palestinian territories. President ‘Abbas said that he was pleased about this visit and hoped that it would lead to something new.”
 It should be noted that the Palestinians and the Arab states, unlike Israel, hold that this resolution recognizes the refugees’ right to return to their homes and also to receive compensation. It should be noted that the issue of the refugees’ return or compensation was not mentioned in the original Saudi peace initiative, but was added later under pressure from Syria and Lebanon in what became the “Arab peace initiative.” See “The Warped Saudi Initiative” by Itamar Rabinovich, Haaretz (Israel), April 4, 2002. For the article in English, see Haaretz.com, April 7, 2002.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), May 7, 2017.
 A Jewish-American lawyer who served as executive vice president and chief legal officer to Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, and as advisor on Israel during his presidential campaign. In January 2017 Trump appointed him United States Special Representative for International Negotiations.