The Palestinian mood following President Donald Trump's inauguration is one of negativity and of support for the protests against him. Several columnists in the Palestinian press even compared his victory to Hitler's, stating that while Hitler hated the Jews, Trump sees Islam as the root of all evil. As president, they warned, Trump could jeopardize the U.S.'s global status, and added that the content of his inaugural speech constitutes an offense to previous presidents and reflects his own vanity and narcissism.
With regard to the Palestinian issue, Palestinian Authority officials formally welcomed the new U.S. president and expressed their desire to work together with him for peace, security, and the two-state solution. This was also evident in a statement by PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas following the inauguration: "I congratulate U.S. President Donald Trump and aspire to work with him for peace, security, and stability in a confused world and a tragedy-ridden region. Together we will contribute to creating a safe future for all."
However, statements by PA officials and articles in PA dailies and Palestinian media in general indicate that the opposite is true, and that Palestinians are apprehensive and pessimistic about the chances that the U.S. will promote the two-state solution or that its policy will be sympathetic towards the Palestinians. These statements and articles also indicate fears that the U.S. will enable Israel to expand its settlements, and especially that the administration intends to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. It was fear of such a move that led to 'Abbas to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah on January 22 in Amman in order to coordinate potential reactions to an embassy move, and prompted Palestinian officials and writers to threaten that it would light a conflagration in the region and open the gates of hell.
This report will review the essence of Palestinian fears regarding President Trump's policies, following his inauguration and in light of other statements by him.
Palestinian Columnists: Trump's Election Reflects Mistakes People Continue To Make – i.e. Democratically Electing Hitler, Hamas
Several Palestinian writers compared Trump's election to Hitler's in Germany and Hamas's in Gaza, and expressed amazement that people continue to fall into this trap when electing a leader in democratic elections.
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Bassem Barhoum wrote: "What did the American voter bring upon himself and upon the world when he voted for Trump? Were the massive anti-Trump demonstrations we witnessed in Washington DC and in several other capitals around the world [a sign that people] are waking up? If so, that is very important. It is no secret that what happens in that enormous country [the U.S.] is not just a domestic [matter]... [but] may have a negative or positive effect on humanity as a whole and on the fate and livelihood of every one of its members.
"The importance of this awakening, if that's what it is, lies in the fact that it comes early, on the very first day of Trump's presidency, and in that it is [happening] across the world. This awakening [movement] is not opposed to Trump or to his political vision, but rather to the savage [capitalism] and unprecedented greed that he represents, and to the dangers he could bring upon the world. The importance [of this awakening also] lies in the fact that it could be a preemptive measure to prevent the far right from gaining power in some European countries, for if this happens, the fate of the world will be in the balance. The important thing is for this awakening to continue, rather than rapidly fade away with Americans resuming their well-known indifference that brought Trump [to power in the first place]. It is also important for the international action to continue, for it might succeed in bringing about the hoped-for change, so that the world will be dominated by a more humane and honest culture.
"What gives me hope is that Trump's insistence on repeating his mistakes and his provocative and ill-considered statements will nurture this awakening [movement and keep it alive]. His slogan 'America First,' which he brandished in his inaugural speech... and his attempt to use the threat of radical Islam as a bogeyman... double the apprehensions regarding him in the U.S. and the world...
"It is puzzling that nations, no matter how civilized, keep repeating the same mistakes when exercising their right to hold democratic elections... The Palestinian people made this mistake in 2006 when it elected Hamas in a moment of frustration, despair and rage towards Fatah, and did not consider where Hamas would lead the [Palestinian] people and the Palestinian cause. Today we are paying dearly for this division [in our ranks]. Other peoples did the same before us. The civilized and educated German people elected Hitler and his Nazi party, who burned books of philosophy in central Berlin and later led Germany and the world into World War II, for which the Germans and the world paid dearly... "
Hassan Khader, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "If the Americans do not manage to drive Donald Trump out of the White House, he will drive democracy out of their land.'Germany above all' was the slogan of the Nazi [Hitler]. Anyone who followed Trump's election campaign and listened to his first speech as president needs only to replace the word 'Germany' in this slogan with the word 'America' in order to understand the meaning of the Trump phenomenon in the U.S.. The Nazi [Hitler] rose to power through democratic elections, and so did Trump... The Nazi regarded Jews inside and outside [his country] as enemies and blamed them for every problem that plagued the country and its citizens. Similarly, Trump regards immigrants and Muslims, inside [his country] and outside it, as an enemy responsible for all the problems that plague the U.S. and its citizens – [although] it is still difficult to describe Trump as a Nazi."
Speaking on Palestine TV on January 9, 2017, PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat said that the "right-wing extremism" represented by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump harked back to Europe of the 1920s and that the same phenomenon would be manifest in elections in France, Germany, Austria, Britain, and elsewhere. To see a MEMRI TV clip of his statements, click below:
Writer For PA Daily: Trump Is A Megalomaniac, His Election Endangers U.S., West
Trump's attacks on previous U.S. presidents were the focus of 'Omar Al-Ghul, columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, who called him an arrogant, racist megalomaniac: "Those listening to President Donald Trump's inauguration [speech] on Friday [might have] thought he was a candidate trying to gain public support and draw [support] away from his rivals, rather than an incoming president who had just been sworn in several minutes before. Moreover, [Trump] believes the U.S. has never seen a president like him... that he is the messiah everyone is waiting for or the 'promised savior.' This became apparent when he rashly and inappropriately attacked former presidents who were standing right there on the stage with him, accusing them of spending trillions of dollars on other countries and peoples, and of leaving the national borders unguarded and America's infrastructures neglected and uncared-for. 'Now arrives the hour of action,' he declared, as though the American culture and empire that rules the world to this day came out of nowhere and were not the fruits of the efforts of the previous U.S. presidents, from both major parties... The logical conclusion to be drawn by anyone listening [to this speech] is that Trump suffers from megalomania and narcissism stemming from unbelievable arrogance. This dangerous tendency does not bode well for the U.S. and its people.
"The speech delivered by the new occupant of the White House was a populist speech reflecting nothing but the culture of a reckless, arrogant and racist man for whom tact and respect for the other are foreign concepts... Clearly, Trump is entitled to criticize the presidents who preceded him, but he is not entitled to offend and insult them to their faces. He is entitled to defend his plan and outline his political, economic, social, educational and military-security policies, but he must have the courage to recognize that he is starting [his task] where his predecessors left off...
"That the billionaire Trump has been elected U.S. president poses a tangible danger to [America's] status and role [in the world, and endangers] the capitalist West, since his positions and statements reveal that he means to divide the capitalist West and turn the world and its international institutions upside down. This can change the entire system of international relations. Hence, the [world's] leaders and countries must take precautions and [prepare for] various scenarios so as to avoid [being harmed by] surprising decisions that the new U.S. president might take. The logical conclusion to draw regarding the future is that, in the Trump era, the U.S. will be at a crossroads."
Fear That Trump's Policy Will Be Pro-Israel And That He Will Move U.S. Embassy To Jerusalem; Threats That U.S. Will No Longer Be Accepted As Mediator, PA Will Shutter Its Mission In Washington
No sooner had President Trump taken office than PA and Fatah officials expressed apprehensions that a Trump-led U.S. would be biased towards Israel, thus damaging U.S. credibility, and that it would encourage Israel to continue settlement construction. Some saw the American silence regarding Israel's intent to build thousands of new homes in settlements as a sign of an explicit pro-Israel policy, and argued that the future would bring danger for the Palestinians.
According to Maen Erekat, chief of the PLO delegation in Washington, "what remains of the U.S.'s credibility in the Middle East will suffer greatly if the administration of new U.S. President Donald Trump takes positions that are clearly biased towards Israel and its policy that violates international law and the UN resolutions. Deviation from the global consensus and from the policy of previous American administrations, both Republican and Democrat, will increase the U.S.'s global isolation and place it in direct conflict with the world vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Calling on the U.S. "to undertake a logical policy on the Palestinian matter," he added that it should "take the Palestinian people's interests and aspirations into consideration if it wants to contribute to finding a solution to the protracted conflict."
Fatah official Nabil Sha'ath told the Hamas publication Al-Risala: "The coming period is dangerous for the Palestinians in the shadow of the Trump administration and of an extremist government in Israel headed by Netanyahu."
Fatah Central Committee Member 'Abbas Zaki criticized the advisors appointed by Trump, who he said "have anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab positions." He also blasted the appointment of David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, saying that he "supports the extremist Israeli right... views Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, and believes settlements are natural and that Israel is a Jewish state." He also rejected Trump's comments regarding the need to combat extremist Islam, saying: "No one can divide the Muslims."
The most sensitive issue for the Palestinians is Trump's promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Although it is not yet certain that it will happen, the Palestinians have already threatened that it would cause a conflagration and trigger counter-moves by the PA, such as withdrawal of recognition of Israel, closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington, and escalation of the situation on the ground. They also said that the U.S. would no longer be able to mediate in the conflict, since it would be playing an active part in it, and it would be necessary to find an alternative framework for a future political process.
On January 22, 2016, PA President 'Abbas met with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman to coordinate reactions in the event of a transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. After the meeting, 'Abbas said: "We expect the American administration to stop talking of moving the embassy to Jerusalem and to promote serious dialogue between us and Israel to reach a political solution... If the embassy is moved, we have agreed with Jordan to take certain steps. We hope the American administration does not do this."
'Abbas Zaki warned that "moving the embassy will open the gates of hell in the region. This is a destructive step... Peace begins in Jerusalem and the fire will burn in Jerusalem... We are preparing ourselves for a hot confrontation. They [the Americans] will lose if they do not back down. We will be the ones to benefit despite our sacrifices and the price we will pay."
Fatah Central Committee Member Nasr Al-Qudwa said: "This step will constitute recognition of Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem... and it is also a blatant violation of humanitarian international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention... This is also a violation of the 1993 principle agreement – the Oslo Accords – on the part of the U.S.... As far as the Palestinians are concerned, this move will constitute a clear assault on Palestinian national and civil rights, and against the religious rights of Muslims and Christians around the world... On the political level, moving the embassy means relinquishing the idea of a negotiated political solution... It will also shift the U.S. from the status of an influential mediator in the peace process... to one of direct party to the conflict."
Al-Qudwa warned that if the embassy moves to Jerusalem, "the Palestinian side will sever its ties with the official staffers of the U.S. Embassy that will be illegally situated in Jerusalem... We should shutter the Palestinian mission in Washington despite the Palestinian need to continue preparations for dialogue with the U.S. in other avenues. In any case, official channels should be closed. It should be clear to the Palestinian side that the U.S. will no longer be a mediator, that cooperation with it will be impossible because it will have become a party [to the conflict], and that we will have to seek out a different mechanism for a future political process. [If the embassy is moved] we must cooperate seriously with the Arabs, especially Jordan and Egypt, since they have direct links to this issue and care about the guardianship of the holy sites. There should also be coordination and cooperation with Islamic countries and many other friendly nations. Additionally, we must file a complaint against the U.S. in the Security Council due to violations of international law... We also require popular action, which is a central matter on the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic levels. We predict a great deal of fury from all concerned peoples."
Speaking on the official Palestinian Authority TV channel on January 18, Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub called U.S. President Trump's plan to relocate the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem a "declaration of war" against the whole world and said "We want the confrontation to be between this new Fascist in the White House and the whole world – Christians as well as Muslims." Rajoub called Trump a "lunatic" and asked: "Why does he think that he has the right to give [the Jews] the keys to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher?!" To see a MEMRI TV clip of his statements, click below:
Columnists: Trump Is Hostile To Palestinians And Is Unwelcome
The fear that the Trump administration will be pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian was also expressed in articles in the Palestinian press, which claimed that Trump was openly hostile to the Palestinians and their goals, and that he is unwelcome as far as they are concerned. Bassem Barhoum wrote in his column in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:
"The Palestinian people has real apprehensions and a real sense that its fate, and the fate of its cause, are in jeopardy in the Trump era, for Trump has so far has embraced the most radical and barbarian stream of the imperialist Zionist enterprise."
'Abd Al-Majid Swailem, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "The signs surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are clear, and there is no more room for guesswork. Trump and Trumpism are clearly and openly hostile towards the Palestinian people, its goals, and its aspirations. They are allied with Israel's extremist religious nationalist right. It is enough to point to Trump's position regarding UN Security Council resolution  and his failure to clearly condemn the settlements. In fact, he actually supports the settlements.
Baha Rahhal, a columnist for the daily Al-Quds, wrote: "Even before becoming president, Donald Trump already made hostile statements, especially towards us Palestinians. He called to support Israel and the settlements, and promised to continue the pro-Israeli bias and the solidarity with Israel, as well as the Judaization and usurpation of [Palestinian] rights. These were his statements, which imply that he does not comply with or pay heed to international resolutions but rather tramples them... Oh Trump, you who call to move the [U.S.] Embassy to Jerusalem and sponsor the settlements that are swallowing up the Palestinian territories, you are unwelcome."
 Wafa.ps, January 20, 2017.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 23, 2017.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), January 24, 2017.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 23, 2017.
 Maannews.net, January 22, 2017.
 Alresalah.ps, January 22, 2017.
 Amad.ps, January 22, 2017.
 Wafa.ps, January 22, 2017.
 Amad.ps, January 22, 2017.
 Alquds.com, January 23, 2017.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 23, 2017.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), January 26, 2017.
 Al-Quds (Jerusalem), January 24, 2017.