A senior Palestinian official on Tuesday objected to President Donald Trump's suggestion that the Palestinians have walked away from peace negotiations, saying US policies in favor of Israel have pushed the Palestinians away from any future process.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Trump restated that he took Jerusalem off the negotiations table when he chose to recognize the city as Israel's capital in early December.
US President Donald Trump (right) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, March 5, 2018, in Washington.
In February, Josh Raffel, a White House official, said that Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the Trump administration's Middle East peace envoys, are "finalizing" the details of a forthcoming plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Shtayeh told foreign journalists.
"President Trump has wanted to remove Jerusalem from the negotiations table". "If they don't, you don't have peace".
He called for U.S. "confidence-building steps" and an internationally sponsored peace process.
He ticked off a number of controversial Trump decisions, including December's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his freezing of tens of millions in dollars in funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, as evidence of a "systematic attempt" to squeeze them. Shtayieh complained pointedly about the Trump admnistrtaion's statement that "Jerusalem has been removed from the talks" and due to the intention to move the United States embassy to Israel to the contested city.
The Palestinians have been fuming over Trump's move.
Both the Palestinians and Israel see Jerusalem as their capital and the U.S. decision to move its Israeli embassy there prompted the Palestinians to say the White House could no longer be the primary mediator between the two sides.
"When [he] went to the Security Council, they tried to meet with him, but President Abu Mazen refused", Ahmad told official PA news.