President Trump has made a poor start in attempting to broker an end to the Jewish-Arab conflict by initially engaging with the “Palestinian Authority” – an entity that no longer legally exists.
Trump’s White House communique on 21 June highlights his glaring tactical error:
“Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and United States Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome met today in Ramallah with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and his senior advisors.”The Office of the Historian in the State Department faithfully records the creation of the Palestinian Authority under “Milestones in the History of US Foreign Relations” (Milestones):
“On September 13, 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiator Mahmoud Abbas signed a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, commonly referred to as the “Oslo Accord,” at the White House. Israel accepted the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians, and the PLO renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace. Both sides agreed that a Palestinian Authority (PA) would be established and assume governing responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over a five-year period.”However on 3 January 2013 Abbas unilaterally signed the Palestinian Authority’s death certificate when issuing the following Decree:
“Official documents, seals, signs and letterheads of the Palestinian National Authority official and national institutions shall be amended by replacing the name ‘Palestinian National Authority’ whenever it appears by the name ‘State of Palestine’ and by adopting the emblem of the State of Palestine.”Quite bizarrely, the Palestinian Authority’s 2013 demise was never recorded in Milestones.
The reason was only made clear on 9 May 2017 when the Office of the Historian reported it had retired Milestones which was no longer being maintained or expanded.
The Office explained that it had completed a review of its online offerings in Milestones and concluded that extensive resources would be needed to revise and expand its publication of any further developments in the subject matters dealt with up to 2000 to meet the Office’s standards for accuracy and comprehensiveness. The timing of this announcement came just six days after the White House visit by “President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority”.
Indeed the full terms of the Abbas Decree – introduced with “minimal ceremony or fanfare” – can only be found to my knowledge in an article written by John Whitbeck – identified as having been:
“in Madrid in October 1991 to contribute ideas for the Palestinian speeches delivered at the conference which launched the "peace process," in Cairo in April/May 1994 as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team which negotiated the Gaza/Jericho Withdrawal Agreement (the first "post-Oslo" agreement) with Israel and near Camp David in July 2000, when the "peace process" effectively ended, to be available to provide legal advice on any documents which emerged from the Arafat/Barak/Clinton summit.”Whitbeck summarises the effect of the Abbas Decree:
“By this decree, the Palestinian Authority, created for a five-year interim period pursuant to the Oslo Declaration of Principles signed on the White House lawn in September 1993, has been absorbed and replaced by the State of Palestine, proclaimed in November 1988, recognized diplomatically by 131 of the 193 UN member states and supported in the recent General Assembly vote by an additional 28 states which have not yet formally recognized it diplomatically.”Whitbeck’s article does not smack of “fake news”.
Either the Palestinian Authority was absorbed and replaced in 2013 or it still exists in 2017.
Flirting with phantoms is the height of folly and extremely foolish.