Palestinian president warns of unspecified ‘tough steps’ against Israel, US
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday told the Palestine Liberation Organisation parliament, which was meeting for its first full session since the 1990s, that he plans to take unspecified “tough steps” against Israel and the United States soon.
Abbas told hundreds of delegates that he is sticking to his rejection of any US proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal following the Trump administration’s recognition in December of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a decision to move the US embassy there in mid-May.
“This is completely unacceptable,” he told the Palestinian National Council members during the opening of their four-day meeting in the West Bank. “We will not accept this deal, and we will not accept the US as the sole broker.”
Abbas appeared to dismiss media reports quoting Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as saying Palestinians should stop complaining and accept what they are being offered by the Trump administration.
Abbas did not refer to those reports specifically, but said he has been assured that Saudi Arabia remains supportive of the Palestinian positions. “We hear lots of rumours,” he told the delegates. “Don’t believe them.”
The 83-year-old Abbas warned that he might “take tough steps in the near future in our relationship with our neighbours (Israel) and the Americans.” He did not elaborate, but said they would be important and far-reaching.
In rambling comments bound to trigger a backlash in Israel, Abbas also spoke about his views of history, portraying the creation of Israel as a European colonial project.
“The truth is that this project is a colonial project aimed at planting foreign bodies in the region,” he said.
The meeting of the PLO parliament comes at a time of deep divisions between Abbas and his domestic rival, the Islamic militant group Hamas that controls Gaza Strip.
Hamas has raised its leadership profile in recent weeks by organising mass protests on the Gaza border with Israel. In the weekly marches, thousands of Palestinians gather near the border fence, with smaller groups approaching the barrier, throwing stones or firebombs and burning tires.
Thirty-nine protesters have been killed and more than 1,700 wounded by Israeli army fire over the past month. Israel, which has come under mounting international criticism for the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters, says it has the right to defend its border and alleges that Hamas uses the protests as cover for attacks.
Abbas praised the “brothers in Hamas” for belatedly adopting what he called peaceful resistance.
“Thank God, they (Hamas) finally agreed and this is effective,” he said, while urging organisers to keep people away from the border fence because of the high risk of harm.