Jan 31, 2020 - World

Palestinians scramble for Arab backing against the Trump peace plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan.28, 2020, following the announcement by US President Donald Trump of the Mideast peace plan. Photo: Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)

The Palestinians are scrambling to mobilize the Arab States against the Trump peace plan with very little success, Arab and U.S. officials told me. Many Arab states are privately and publicly pressing the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table for a better deal.

Why it matters: The foreign ministers of the Arab League member states will convene tomorrow in Cairo at the request of the Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to call on the Arab foreign ministers to back the Palestinians and pass a resolution criticizing the Trump plan.

Behind the scenes: Negotiations are quietly going on among the Arab countries about the text of the resolution that will be voted on at tomorrow's meeting. The Palestinians, together with Lebanon and Qatar, are pushing for a text the criticizes the Trump plan, Arab officials told me, while Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia want a more neutral text that calls for resuming peace talks but does not criticize Trump.

  • The Trump administration has also asked several Arab countries to make sure the Arab League meeting tomorrow doesn’t end with a resolution against the White House peace plan, U.S. officials told me.

What they are saying: The UAE's foreign minister, Abdullah Bin Zayed, wrote a very unusual tweet today criticizing the Palestinian position on the Trump plan, evidence of the growing pressure many Arab states are putting on the Palestinians to accept the Trump plan.

Between the lines: The UAE is one of the Trump administration’s staunchest allies in the Arab world. It was one of three Arab countries that sent ambassadors to the unveiling ceremony of the Trump plan on Tuesday, together with Bahrain and Oman. The UAE also issued a statement calling the Trump plan “a good start” and called the Palestinians to re-engage with the US.

The intrigue: Many Arab states have issued statements that were balanced or even and supportive of the U.S. peace plan. Arab governments offered very little criticism of the plan.

Of note: Jordan who was the only Arab ally of the U.S. to raise publicly reservations about the plan, and it avoided criticizing Trump.

  • King Abdullah of Jordan called Abbas today and stressed Jordan’s “support for the Palestinian people in gaining their just and legitimate rights, and establishing their independent state on the 4 June 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace with all countries in the region, based on the two state solution”, according to a statement from the Hashemite court.  
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