Palestinians question US peace motives

:: Thursday saw a photo opportunity and nice statements in Ramallah between the American and Palestinian delegations.

In a statement, the US Consulate in Jerusalem said the American delegation had “a productive meeting focused on how to begin substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Both sides agreed to continue with the US-led conversations as the best way to reach a comprehensive peace deal.”

Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the meeting was “productive and serious.”

He repeated the Palestinian position in support of the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, and the need to end settlement activity and respect international law.

Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian delegation to the US, quoted the opening statement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the meeting with the American delegation: “We know that this delegation is working for peace, and we are working with it to achieve what President (Donald) Trump has called a peace deal. We know that things are difficult and complicated, but there is nothing impossible with good efforts.”

But independent commentators and the leading Palestinian daily Al-Quds have a different take.

Al-Quds mocked the meeting with an editorial entitled “What peace and what progress.” The daily recalled recent Israeli announcements of new settlement activity as proof that the US and Israel are trying to deceive the world.

“What needs to be said is that this Israeli deception and US bias are a reflection of efforts to ignore the real reasons for the lack of peace, namely the Israeli occupation and the denial of Palestinian rights,” the editorial said.

Naser Laham, editor of the independent news agency Maan, said the Americans “crossed oceans and seas, yet no one in the independent media or the public paid any attention to them.”

A small demonstration took place in Ramallah’s Manara Square against the visit of the US delegation.

Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian Mubadara Movement, said the delegation is totally biased toward Israel and has done nothing to stop settlement activity.

“The alternative to US mediation is organizing an international conference that includes parties that aren’t biased to Israel,” he said.

On the US side, the meeting in Ramallah was attended by deputy head of the National Security Agency (NSA) Dina Powell, envoy Jason Greenblatt and Mike Hankey, consul general in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian delegation included Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator and secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee; Mahmoud Mustafa, head of the Palestinian Investment Fund; Majed Faraj, head of the intelligence service; and Abu Rudieneh.

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