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January 8, 2018 No.
1369

Palestinian Authority Formulating New Political Strategy

By: C. Jacob*

Background

U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6, 2017, announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel evoked harsh reactions from both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. This was expressed in riots that took place in the West Bank with PA backing and near the Gaza-Israel border, in flagrant anti-American statements by PA officials, and in a decision to reject the U.S. as a mediator in future peace negotiations. At the same time, the PA leadership is acting to formulate a new political strategy to advance the Palestinian goals.

The riots took place mostly on the seam line between the PA and Israel, with the encouragement of the PA, and on the Gaza border. There were also several stabbing attacks, and rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel after a long period of quiet. However, participation in the demonstrations was relatively thin, which led Nasser Lahham, editor-in-chief of the Ma'an News Agency, to write a special report analyzing the reasons for this, suggesting that one of them is that the public doesn't entirely understand the character of the struggle that they are being asked to join, perhaps because "it isn't clear to the leadership itself what type of struggle should be undertaken."[1]

While the PA did take a harsher tone following Trump's announcement, and backed the call to participate in protests, it did not announce a change in policy, such as exchanging its focus on the political and diplomatic front with a return to armed struggle. Even ahead of "Foundation Day," the 53rd anniversary of the establishment of the PLO, the leadership did not call for a change in direction and there were no significant riots.

Trump's announcement exacerbated the tension between the PA and the U.S., which was already quite high after, in November 2017, the U.S. government refused to renew the operating license for the PLO representation in Washington (a move which already prompted senior PA officials to threaten suspending relations between the PA and the U.S. and suspending the political process).[2] Today, after Trump's announcement, senior PA officials state that, since the U.S. is adopting a one-sided policy, it cannot serve as mediator in the political process, and that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is tantamount to a declaration of war on the Palestinians.[3] Senior PA officials even announced that they would boycott U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the region.[4]


Show trial for U.S. President Trump in Gaza (Source: maannews.net, December 22, 2017)

This report reviews the PA efforts to consolidate a new political strategy, and details the parameters of this strategy and the PA's position on various issues that require an updated approach under the new circumstances, such as the Oslo Accords, the character of the popular resistance, etc.

Following Trump's Announcement, Abbas And Senior PA Officials Reject U.S. As Sponsor Of Political Process

In his speech in Ramallah on December 6, 2017, following Trump's announcement, 'Abbas stated that the U.S. has withdrawn from its role as a fair mediator in the political process due to its bias toward Israel: "The decision of the American President in the matter of Jerusalem is actually… a U.S. withdrawal from its role as sponsor for peace, which it has fulfilled for dozens of years. This announcement contradicts all the bilateral international decisions and agreements… rewards Israel for ignoring agreements and for challenging UN resolutions, and encourages Israel to perpetuate its policy of occupation, settlement building, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing… The decision [also] serves those extremist groups that try to transform the conflict in our region into a religious one."[5]

Following the UN vote against the Trump announcement, 'Abbas escalated the tone of his statements, and in a December 22, 2017 press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, he said: "Whoever proposes a plan like this, that united Jerusalem should be the capital of the State of Israel, and moves the U.S. embassy in contravention of international decisions, is not capable of presenting a just and reasonable solution for the achievement of peace in the Middle East."[6] In a speech on the occasion of Christmas, he said: "Under no circumstances will we accept the U.S. as a mediator in the peace process, and under no circumstances will we accept any plan from it, since it has chosen to side with Israel."[7]

On December 8, Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Shtaya said: "This administration has crossed every red line with measures that contravene international law and especially [UN] Security Council Resolution 478, which determines that East Jerusalem is occupied land, as are the Palestinian territories. The U.S. President has given what doesn't belong to him to those who are not entitled to it, just like [the Balfour Declaration] 100 years ago." [8]

At a December 9 Arab League meeting, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki accused the U.S. of violating the guarantees it had given the PLO: "This is a flagrant violation of the written guarantees the U.S. gave to the PLO in 1993, [which promised] it would not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Trump's announcement rewards Israel for its imperialism and violations of international law and human rights."[9] On another occasion Al-Maliki said: "No Palestinian official will meet with [Vice President] Mike Pence, because he was party to this decision and to the claim, based on the Torah, that the Jews have an absolute and eternal right to Jerusalem, while the Palestinians rights in this city are ignored."[10]

PLO Central Committee member 'Azzam Al-Ahmad said: "We have severed relations with the U.S. due to the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital." [11] PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat told a Russian television channel: "There will be no dialogue with the American side about the peace process until the U.S. recants Trump's decision regarding Jerusalem."[12]

The harshest statement was voiced by Fatah deputy chairman Mahmoud Al-'Aloul, who said that "the U.S. was complicit in the occupation's violation of Palestinian rights and in attacking the Palestinian people... The Oslo [Accords] are finished, and so are any [contacts] with Israel... All types of resistance to the Israeli occupation are [now] legitimate."[13]

The practical measures taken by the PA were not very significant. On 'Abbas's orders, PA Ambassador to Washington Husam Zomlot was recalled for consultations. In addition, the PLO office in the U.S. cancelled its December 6 Christmas reception on Capitol Hill in anticipation of Trump's announcement.[14] On December 9, the Palestinian refugee camp committees in the West Bank announced that they refused to deal with American UNRWA officials and informed the UNRWA official in charge of the West Bank and East Jerusalem that his presence in the refugee camps was unwelcome.[15]


Gazans burn Trump portraits, U.S. flag (Alquds.com, December 6, 2017)  

Efforts To Formulate New Political Strategy In Lieu Of U.S.-Sponsored Political Process

While rejecting the U.S. as mediator in the peace process, the PA has been seeking alternatives to negotiations with Israel, and stepping up its diplomatic struggle. The main principles of the new strategy are: replacing the U.S.-sponsored negotiations with an international framework that will seek to force Israeli compliance with U.N. resolutions; acting to join international bodies; demanding a recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine; calling on more countries to recognize Palestine, or declaring the 1967 territories a state under occupation. 

At the Islamic Conference in Istanbul, convened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on December 13, 'Abbas clarified: "We will demand to pass a [U.N.] resolution calling to transfer the entire dossier of the [Palestinian-Israeli] conflict to the U.N. [itself] and establish a new mechanism for implementing U.N. resolutions... We call on you to step up your efforts towards [the acceptance] of Palestine as a full U.N. member."[16]   

Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Shtaya said in a meeting with the French Consul in Jerusalem, Pierre Cochard, on December 16: "The phase of bilateral talks is over, and will not return. The Palestinian leadership will collaborate with the international community, including France, Russia and China, to start a new political process, sponsored by the international community and taking international law and the U.N. resolutions as the basis for a solution, rather than [Palestinian-Israeli] negotiations... The [Palestinian] leadership has a political and diplomatic action plan for preparing this new international track, while also attaining intra-Palestinian reconciliation."[17]  

In an interview with the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, 'Abbas's advisor Nabil Sha'th referred to the time-frame for implementing the new strategy: "The Palestinian leadership means to form a multi-country international framework that will rely on the international sources of authority and the U.N. resolutions... We need two or three years to force the U.S. to accept such a framework, which former French president [Francois] Hollande already began to establish when he convened 74 countries [for the Paris Conference]. We will impose [the establishment] of such a framework even if Trump recants his announcement. We will impose an international framework to sponsor any future peace process or negotiations. We will [also] demand that countries recognize Palestine as a state under occupation. There are 12 countries that have yet to recognize it, versus 138 countries that have already recognized it."[18]

These statements were accompanied by practical measures. On December 20, Nabil Sha'th met with officials in Russia to discuss the establishment of an international forum to supervise the peace process, and on December 23 he visited China at the head of a Palestinian delegation for meetings with Chinese officials.[19] In an interview with Al-Jazeera he clarified, however, that there was no intention of excluding the U.S. from the peace process entirely but only to minimize its role in favor of international sponsorship: "The Palestinians,  Russia, China and the E.U. do not want the U.S. to monopolize the peace process... Russia supports the Palestinian position that there must be an international framework for the negotiations with Israel... The countries of the E.U., Russia and China do not mean to exclude the U.S., but rather to establish an international framework similar to the Madrid Conference of 1991 or the 2017 Paris Conference, in which 74 countries participated."[20]


The Palestinian delegation in China (image: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, PA, December 23, 2017)

Efforts To Join International Bodies

As part of the new strategy focusing on the international community as the main sponsor of the peace process, the Palestinians have launched comprehensive diplomatic efforts to join international bodies. At the Islamic Conference in Istanbul,   'Abbas stated: "[In the past] we pledged to refrain from joining certain bodies, on condition that the U.S. refrained from moving its embassy [to Jerusalem], closing the PLO office in Washington or stopping the aid to the Palestinians.  But the U.S. broke that [promise], so we will not honor our commitments either." [21] At a meeting of the Palestinian leadership on December 18, he added: "We are entitled to membership in international bodies, and today we announce that we have signed up for membership in 22 of them... There are 522 organizations we are entitled to join. We will consider our affairs and form a committee on behalf of the leadership to examine all the plans we have submitted and plan to submit to the U.N."[22]  

Demand To Recognize State Of Palestine And Jerusalem As Its Capital

Following the U.N. vote on Trump's announcement, the Palestinian leadership is promoting the recognition of an independent state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. At a December 9 press conference in Cairo, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki called on the U.N. and on all countries "to recognize Palestine as an  independent and fully sovereign state whose capital is East Jerusalem."[23] In an interview on Palestinian radio that day, he said further: "Palestinians are working to persuade E.U. countries that have not recognized Palestine to recognize it, and to persuade countries that have recognized it to [also] recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. The Palestinian leadership is still pressing France to take the lead [in the renewed campaign] to recognize Palestine."[24] PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah made a similar call in a December 6 meeting with European consuls in Ramallah: "It is paramount to recognize the state of Palestine, in order to save the political process and the two-state solution."[25] PLO Executive Committee secretary Saeb Erekat called to translate the U.N. vote into recognition of Palestine.[26]

Some demanded concrete expressions of support for the Palestinians, in addition to the verbal declarations.  For example,  a statement issued on December 21 by the PA foreign ministry said: "The global consensus on opposing Trump's announcement should be translated into recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. In addition, mechanisms must be formed to impose a halt to construction in the settlements... Despite the significance of this [global] consensus and its political, legal and international implications, and the message it conveys to the U.S. administration, the international community must not suffice with statements of condemnation or opposition, or with decisions that are never implemented."[27]

As a practical follow-up to the demand to recognize Palestine as an independent state, the PLO institutions are discussing the option of declaring the Palestinian territories "a state under occupation." According to Fatah Central Committee member 'Azzam Ahmad, the PLO Central Council plans to discuss this option when it convenes in mid-January. He added: "It is impossible to maintain the relations with the Israeli side, which ignores the rights of the Palestinian people, especially those pertaining to Jerusalem."[28]

The Approach To The Political Process And The Character Of The Struggle

PA officials and media figures raised several other issues requiring an internal debate and perhaps a new approach matching the PA's current strategy, for instance the question whether to uphold the Oslo Accords or renounce them. Another question, requiring an immediate answer, was whether to confine the struggle to "popular resistance" or resume the armed struggle.

"Reassessing" The Oslo Accords

One of the measures suggested as a possible reaction to Trump's announcement was to threaten a reassessment of the Oslo Accords. 'Abbas said at the Islamic Conference in Istanbul: "Israel's actions and aggression will cause us to extract ourselves from the agreements with it, and it will bear the burden of the occupation. We will not be an authority bereft of [real] authority."[29] Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Shtaya declared: "The Palestinian leadership will carry out a new and comprehensive reassessment of the Oslo Accords, because the most important clause in it is the final settlement, centering on the issue of Jerusalem, and because the negotiations, in their former format, are done with and will never be renewed."[30]

The harshest statement was again made by Mahmoud Al-'Aloul: "Oslo is done for, and we must actualize every type of resistance." Conversely, Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub said, in a meeting with representatives of the Palestinian community in South Africa, that "the decision to stop implementing the Oslo Accords is not in the hands of a single person, but must be taken by the PLO and Fatah's Central Committee following discussions, and not based on anyone's whim. The PA honors all the agreements it signed with Israel, and when a crisis occurs, we should discuss things before making decisions. President Mahmoud 'Abbas will not discard the option of peace and the two-state solution for anything. This is [the kind of] policy that bought South Africa its freedom [as well]."[31]

'Abbas's advisor Nabil Sha'th took a cautious line, saying in an interview with the Ma'an news agency: "We will demand a reassessment of the Oslo Accords, but not necessarily to cancel it in full. We may cancel only some parts of it and reassess clauses that Israel is not implementing or honoring. A decision to cancel the Oslo [Accords] will not be taken in a single meeting, but gradually, step by step."[32]

At present, it seems that the Palestinian leadership, for many different reasons, will suffice with  a "reassessment" of the Oslo Accords, and will not actually move to cancel them.  

Focus On Unarmed Popular Resistance

The Palestinian public did not heed the calls to launch a new intifada, and participation in the popular protests was relatively thin. PA officials, public figures and columnists stressed the need to focus on unarmed popular resistance, recognizing that a shift towards armed resistance will hurt the Palestinians in global public opinion. Fatah Central Committee member Nasser Al-Qidwa called to "participate in marches expressing the Palestinian rage in various non-violent and unarmed ways, so as to preserve the Palestinian national interest."[33] Munir Al-Jaroub, head of the information bureau of Fatah's recruitment and organization commission, issued a statement saying: "Fatah does not advocate armed clashes against the occupation. The direction at the moment is involving as many people as possible in unarmed activism against the occupation. The use of weapons is not currently on the agenda because there is no parity of forces, and in order to prevent Israel from using weapons to kill a large number of young people."[34]

Hamada Fara'na, a columnist for the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam , wrote in a similar vein: "The Palestinian leadership must learn to draw lessons and conclusions from the dozens of clashes it has had with the occupation [in the course of] its struggle with it...  The [enemy's] military, technological and intelligence superiority can only be defeated by [leveraging] the ability of the entire [Palestinian] people to resist the occupation and to confront it and make sacrifices, and this can only be implemented through an unarmed popular intifada that will involve the entire people in a national campaign against the occupation, not just those who have managed to acquire weapons."[35]

Hassan Al-Batal, a columnist for the  Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, also wrote that armed struggle would detract from the global sympathy felt for the Palestinians: "Whoever followed the second intifada, which was characterized by the use of firearms [and explosives] after weeks of [unarmed] popular intifada, knows that the occupation dragged us into  waging [this intifada] on its own terms. The 'suicide bombings' might have been understandable, had it not been for the excessive [use of this means] and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, instead of [targeting] the occupation soldiers, who can be found at the checkpoints... The second intifada did not enjoy the justified global support that the first one enjoyed, especially at the beginning, when it was characterized by popular unarmed resistance. The suicide bombings... provided Israel with an excuse [it could present] to the world and with justification for its method of murder and targeted killings of intifada activists. The PA's tightening of relations with Fatah, and Fatah's tightening of relations with the Al-Aqsa Brigades, provided the occupation army with a  pretext to engage in the ongoing and systematic destruction of the PA itself and its logistical headquarters, namely its government centers, to the extent of targeting the head [of the PA] and assassinating the historic leader [Yasser Arafat]."[36]

Different Palestinian Reactions To Trump's Announcement

Alongside the rage and protests, some Palestinians identified positive aspects to Trump's announcement:[37] his mention of the two-state solution and his statement that the final borders will be determined in negotiations; the isolation of Israel and the U.S. in the global arena as a result of the announcement, and the chance it afforded to replace the U.S. with different sponsors for the peace process, ones more sympathetic to the Palestinian position, and thereby to avoid adopting Trump's "deal of the century," which the Palestinians have rejected out of hand. It was also noted that Trump's announcement had placed the Palestinian issue on the global agenda, and had legitimized the demand to recognize a state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.[38]

Former PA Minister: We Must Not Boycott Pence's Visit

Former PA minister Ziad Abu Zayyad wrote in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds: " "I call upon President 'Abbas to receive U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Ramallah, and to depart as soon as possible for Washington to meet with President Trump, [but] not to demand that he rescind his decision on Jerusalem, because there is no way that he will do that, and it would be political naïveté to speak of this. ['Abbas should go to Washington] to demand that [Trump] announce an equivalent decision that will restore the balance to the American position vis-à-vis recognizing Palestinian sovereignty over Arab [East] Jerusalem, [re]launch the diplomatic process, promote UN recognition of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and open the gates to a solution that will guarantee an end to the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

"Relying on Trump's decision, we should turn it to benefit us, instead of being dragged along, demagogically and fruitlessly, with the reaction of the street. In order to advance this [idea], we must continue all the popular protests – in the homeland and outside it, in the Arab countries, in the Muslim countries and worldwide – and even expand them.

"Likewise, there is a need for energetic action on the official and international levels, for continued opposition to Trump's unilateral decision, and to support the demand for an equivalent decision on recognizing Arab Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state...

"There is a difference between public opinion, which expresses public sentiment, and an official position, which must be restrained, according to the rules of diplomacy...

"In light of all the condemnation of Trump's decision and its dangerous repercussions, it is only legitimate to wonder what good will come of the meeting with Pence, and why [Mahmoud] 'Abbas should meet with him. [But] I say, first of all, that President 'Abbas is the leader of a country and must behave like one... Therefore, before the Palestinian decision-makers announce their official position [on this matter], they should examine the advantages and disadvantages of Trump's decision, and formulate their position based [the idea of] forging a counterattack plan, aimed at what we want [at this point], not what Israel wants [to get out of Trump's announcement]...

"While Trump did say that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he [also] said that the borders of the area under Israeli sovereignty are to be determined by negotiations. He added that the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is not tied to the outcome of the negotiations over the permanent arrangement – which includes Jerusalem. He also stressed that the status quo in the holy places is to be respected, pointing at the Jewish prayers at the Western Wall, Muslim prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque, and Christian prayers at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

"This absolute confirmation that Al-Aqsa belongs to the Muslims has put an end to the Jewish aspirations regarding it. Likewise, the statement that the boundaries of Israel's sovereignty [in Jerusalem] will be determined through negotiation, for the reason that Jerusalem is one of the issues included in the permanent arrangement, strips Trump's decision of anything new, and sets it in line with announcements by others, including Palestinian leaders, to the effect that West Jerusalem is the Israeli capital and East Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital…

"Palestinian objections to meeting with Pence, and to go to Washington to meet with Trump, may calm the tempest of inflamed sentiment on the Palestinian street, but they will not help the Palestinian cause, and will accomplish nothing for our people. On the contrary, they could cause great damage to Jerusalem and to us."[39]

Columnist In PA Daily: Trump's Announcement Can Advance Palestinian Cause

Hilmi Al-Ghoul, who was an advisor to former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, wrote in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "Just as President Donald Trump's decision, last Wednesday, December 6, 2017, to 'recognize' Jerusalem as capital of Israel constitutes serious damage to the issues anchoring the peace process and Palestinian national interests, as well as a clear flouting of the decisions, laws, and conventions of international legitimacy and a scandalous violation of justice and liberty, it also constitutes an important step to the benefit of the Palestinian issue. This is because it refocused attention on this issue, because of the public, political and diplomatic reaction, on all levels – local, Arab, regional, and international – and also because it granted Jerusalem, the eternal Palestinian capital, political status and weight, by means of the global opposition to the despicable American decision...

"The Trump decision, which oppresses the national rights [of the Palestinians], may lay the foundations for a new stage, and for a change in the rules of the diplomatic game. [It can do this if we take] the following Palestinian measures: a) oppose U.S. sponsorship of the peace process; b) appeal for international legitimacy, relying on the major international organizations connected to the peace process, and on international institutions such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice at the Hague, and other UN organizations; and c) join many UN institutions and organizations, so as to strengthen the Palestinian status worldwide.

"As far as comparing Trump's decision on the Jerusalem issue to the Balfour Declaration, as some have, it should be noted that the Balfour decision aroused no international reaction, since at that time the world was immersed in the maelstrom of imperialism, or was collaborating with it, and also because after World War I..., global influence was split among the major capitalist forces. Thus, the cursed [Balfour] decision sparked no reaction, whereas Trump's decision on the Jerusalem issue was met with opposition and denunciation, and divided the world in two, with the U.S. and Israel on one side of the scale and the rest of the countries and world powers on the other."[40]

Nablus Public Figure: Avoid "Death To America" Slogans, Burning Of American Flag, But Boycott American Products

Zuheir Al-Dab'i, the former director of the Islamic Waqf in Nablus, wrote in an article: "We do not need a 'day of rage' but rather [many] days of contemplation and dedicated action [to promote] awareness, understanding and knowledge. We need to subject our performance to monitoring, analysis, study and assessment, namely to organize our action. This is because our advantage of willingness to sacrifice for our homeland and holy places is not enough. We must create a Palestinian establishment according to the principles of efficient management, because all of our noble, honest, pious and brave [people] cannot contend with the Zionist institutions when their performance is [based on] tribalism...

"Every time the U.S. adds another injustice to the list of its injustices against our ummah and our people we issue statements and hold protests and rallies. That is well and good, but it is not enough and it is not effective. Every time the U.S. perpetrates another injustice against us we also cry out 'death to America' and burn the American flag, when the fact is... that we do not wish death upon America or anyone else, but only [wish to] champion our rights – in Jerusalem, in the Arab homeland and in the Muslim countries – and the right of all people on earth to dignity, freedom, justice, progress and peace.

"Burning the American flag does not benefit us or end any injustice. It only hurts us, because the [warmongers] in America know how to exploit the burning of the American flag to recruit the people there against our rights and against our homeland and cause..."[41]

Conclusion

The tension between the PA and the U.S. – and in particular the Palestinians' inclination to express their rage by severing relations, rejecting the U.S. as a mediator in the peace process, and adopting harsh rhetoric vis-à-vis the U.S. administration – may leave the peace process at an impasse and distance the Palestinians from the achievement of their political goals. The crisis has placed the PA, and especially 'Abbas, on a collision course with the U.S., in addition to the conflicts that already exist between the PA and various elements.

The first of these conflicts is with Israel. The political process has long been in a stalemate due to 'Abbas's insistence on setting conditions for renewing it, among them the demand to halt construction in the settlements, including in Jerusalem, and the demand that Israel agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders. This is in addition to his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The rejection of the U.S. as a broker will likely make the chances of renewing the peace process slimmer still.

In the regional arena, 'Abbas' relations with the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan), have been tense ever since he rejected their demand that he reconcile with Dahlan and move towards reconciliation with  Hamas as part of advancing the peace process. 'Abbas not only refused to comply but also condemned their interference in the PA's affairs, and Palestinian elements even accused Saudi Arabia of normalizing relations with Israel.

In the inter-Palestinian arena, 'Abbas has not managed to mend the rift with Hamas that has existed for over a decade. While a new reconciliation agreement was achieved in October 2017, its implementation has encountered many difficulties, with the PA accusing Hamas of refusing to cede control of Gaza despite the agreement and Hamas countering that the PA has not lifted its sanctions on Gaza despite the reconciliation. The conflict between 'Abbas and Dahlan, due to the expelling of the latter and his associates from the Fatah institutions, has caused Fatah to split into two factions, which diminishes its chances of winning future elections, if and when they take place.

'Abbas's reaction to Trump's announcement has bolstered his public image as a national leader who defends the interests of the Palestinian people and remains loyal to its goals. The need for this public support, which comes after a significant decline in his popularity in recent years, may be what motivated him to take such a harsh stance in response to Trump's move.

 

*C. Jacob is a research fellow at MEMRI.

 

[1] Maannews.net, December 18, 2017.

[2] Al-Arabiya.net; wafa.ps; alquds.com, November 18, 2017.

[3] Maannews.net, December 12, 2017.

[4] Pence was slated to visit Israel and the PA in December, but canceled the visit, apparently due to the Palestinian refusal to meet him.

[5] Wafa.ps, December 6, 2017.

[6] Wafa.ps, December 22, 2017.

[7] Wafa.ps, December 22, 2017.

[8] Wafa.ps, December 8, 2017.

[9] Alhaya.ps, December 10, 2017.

[10] Maannews.net, December 9, 2017.

[11] Palinfo.com, December 8, 2017.

[12] Alquds.com, December 8, 2017.

[13] Arabi21.com, December 16, 2017; amad.ps, December 15, 2017.

[14] Alquds.com, December 6, 2017.

[15] Amad.ps, December 9, 2017.

[16] Samanews.ps, December 13, 2017.

[17] Maannews.net, December 16, 2017.

[18] Maannews.net, December 17, 2017.

[19] Wafa.ps, December 21, 2017; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 23, 2017.

[20] Aljazeera.net, December 28, 2017.

[21] Samanews.ps, December 13, 2017.

[22] Wafa.ps, December 18, 2017.

[23] Wafa.ps, December 9, 2017.

[24] Maannews.net, December 9, 2017.

[25] Alquds.com, December 6, 2017.

[26] Alquds.com, December 22, 2017.

[27] Wafa.ps, December 21, 2017.

[28] Wafa.ps, December 24, 2017.

[29] Samanews.ps, December 13, 2017.

[30] Wafa.ps, December 8, 2017.

[31] Alresalah.ps December 21, 2017.

[32] Maannews.net, December 17, 2017.

[33] Wafa.ps, December 6, 2017.

[34] Maannews.net, December 16, 2017.

[35] Al-Ayyam (PA), December 15, 2017.

[36] Al-Ayyam (PA), December 7, 2017.

[38] It should be mentioned in this context that 'Abbas himself admitted that the announcement did not change the situation on the ground. In a December 6, 2017 speech, he said: "The U.S. President's decision will not change the reality of Jerusalem and will not legitimize Israel's [position] on Jerusalem, for it is a Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian city, the eternal capital of the state of Palestine" (Wafa.ps, December 6, 2017). Despite this, he felt the need to launch a political campaign against it. At a meeting of the Palestinian leadership on December 18, he explained: "Even if the U.S. position on Jerusalem has no legal force, the fact that it was pronounced by the U.S. compels us to take steps against it, and we have already begun to do so: the Arab League foreign ministers have convened, and the Islamic summit in Istanbul was held (Wafa.ps, December 18, 2017). 

[39] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), December 10, 2017.

[40] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 11, 2107.

[41] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), December 11, 2017.