President Trump promised in May that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be solved during his presidency. Now, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says his U.S. counterpart has destroyed any chance of that happening.
In a speech given on Sunday in Ramallah, Palestine’s de facto administrative capital, Abbas slammed Trump over recent policy decisions regarding Israel and Palestine.
“We will not accept for the U.S. to be a mediator, because after what they have done to us — a believer shall not be stung twice in the same place,” Abbas said. He went on to reference Trump’s own remark that a peace agreement would be the “ultimate deal.”
“The deal of the century is the slap of the century,” the Palestinian leader asserted. “However, we’ll get back at them.”
Abbas said Trump’s actions as president have killed the Oslo Accords, a set of agreements reached more than two decades ago outlining a process aiming to ultimately achieve peace. Coupling the U.S. president in with Israel, Abbas lamented the end of the landmark effort.
“Israel has killed Oslo. It has terminated Oslo,” he said. “Now we are an authority without any authority, and an occupation without land, and we will not accept this.”
After a year of back-and-forth, Trump announced in December that the United States considers the contested city of Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital and that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv will be relocated to the city as soon as possible. The news enflamed tensions across the region, sparking mass-protests and condemnations. The United Nations overwhelmingly voted to condemn the decision, with even close U.S. allies opposing the move or choosing to abstain, rather than vote with the United States.
That onslaught of criticism hasn’t gone over well with the White House. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has indicated that the United States will cut off aid to Palestinians until they agree to rejoin peace talks with Israel. But many Palestinians say Trump killed any chance of restarting talks when he chose to act against public sentiment on Jerusalem. With badly-needed funding for both Palestinians living under occupation and Palestinian refugees threatened, Trump is no closer to the acquiescence he expected — something Abbas made clear during his remarks on Sunday.
“Damn your money!” Abbas said, in a comment aimed at Trump. “He said, ‘I will give you a peace deal.’ The deal turned out to be a mess. He said, ‘We will not pay for the Palestinians because they stopped the negotiations.’ Where are the negotiations?”
“These two are a disgrace to any administration who respects itself, if it wanted to respect itself,” Abbas continued, singling out both Haley and controversial U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who has long supported the building of Israeli settlements in Palestine.
Abbas’ comments are likely a taste of more to come. According to reports, the White House is preparing to cut the first 2018 U.S. aid contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) by more than half. The decision could imperil thousands of Palestinians, many of whom rely on U.S. funds for access to health care, education, and a range of other necessities.