05/04/2017, 17.52
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Trump's 'easy’ peace does not convince Palestinians

The President of the United States met with the President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas. Bernard Sabella, Fatah's Catholic representative, and activist Adel Misk spoke about it. For them there are too many ambiguities in Washington’s position and inflexibility in Israel on important points such as refugees and settlements. Abbas mentioned hope, but both Sabella and Misk see a “dead-end’. The meeting was just a “sweetener” for the Palestinians.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Donald Trump's promise of reaching a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine has been met with ironic disillusionment among many Palestinians, this according to Bernard Sabella, and Adel Misk. Mr Sabella is a Catholic, a Fatah representative for Jerusalem and the Executive Secretary of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East Council of Churches. Mr Misk is an activist.

For Sabella, a simple peace can only be achieved at Palestinians’ expense. For Misk, the absence of a clear US position on the two-state solution represents an obstacle to any peace process.

Yesterday, Trump hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, and promised to do "all that is necessary" to reach a peace agreement, for which he intends to act as "mediator, arbitrator and facilitator".

During the meeting, Trump is said to have asked Abbas to stop payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which Israel considers "terrorists".

There is no indication that Abbas has agreed to this request, which would be badly received by Palestinians, especially in view of the ongoing hunger strike by prisoners, now in its 18th day.

For his part, Abbas reiterated Palestinian demands: A Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital within the 1967borders, and the end to the occupation.

Abbas ended his remarks addressing the US president in English: "with you Mr. President, we now have hope." But many Palestinians do not seem to agree.

"We are not too excited," said Sabella. "Considering the current situation, with the problems in Europe, the American administration, Israel's efforts to make us look like the aggressors, to which Europe seems to agree. . . I am not very optimistic."

"I do not think there will be a radical change. Obama and Kerry tried, whilst financing Israel. I doubt that things will change with Trump, who has many pro-Israel advisers, or that we will reach the deal of the century'.”

A "simple peace" is possible if Palestinians decided to accept the occupation, gave up East Jerusalem as their capital, renounced the return of refugees, and recognised the Israeli state as 'Jewish'. He adds, ironically, "It does not seem to me that the Islamic Republic of Iran has asked European states to recognise it as an Islamic nation."

As a Palestinian and as president of the Palestinian National Authority, Abbas will never accept such conditions, considering the internal pressure "from Hamas, and others. Perhaps it is too much to say that the situation is ‘hot’, but things here are difficult."

Using business as a metaphor, Sabella notes, "We need all the pieces, including psychological and emotional ones. We cannot have peace if we do not take everyone into account. We have come a long way and recognised Israel, but they want more and more. There are too many problems and I believe that a simplistic solution from Washington could not be sold to most Palestinians. For me, it is a dead-end."

For his part, Misk also views Trump's promise as weak because his position is ambiguous. Both the US leader and Abbas made "brief" and "limited" statements, which shows that "they did not come to any great accord."

"Trump did not talk about two states. He said he wants to act as a mediator to solve the problem, but he did not say how. They did not talk about of the [Jewish] settlements, which continue to grow. They did not mention Jerusalem."

"Since he did not speak clearly, with a timetable or a real plan, I think it was nothing but a formal meeting. Israel is not going to step back. There is so much going against the two-state solution. Without a clear position, the US backs Israel’s inflexibility."

"Even the previous administration did not obtain anything,” the activist explained, “but at least they clearly spoke about two states. This administration did not mention it, even during the meeting with Netanyahu. It took a 'non-position position'.”

For Misk, yesterday's statements are just a "sweetener for the Palestinians".

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