It is hard to believe that a White House meeting between President Trump and Mahmoud Abbas could be headlined in an official White House Statement as:
“Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority”To ram home this was no oversight or mischaracterisation of whom President Trump was meeting – the White House Statement continues:
“President Donald J. Trump and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority met yesterday in New York to continue working toward an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.” The Palestinian Authority has not existed since 3 January 2013 following Abbas issuing this 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.”The Palestinian Authority was created pursuant to the “Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area” dated 4 May 1994 signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization – (PLO) Article V providing:
Structure and Composition of the Palestinian Authority
1. The Palestinian Authority will consist of one body of 24 members which shall carry out and be responsible for all the legislative and executive powers and responsibilities transferred to it under this Agreement, in accordance with this Article, and shall be responsible for the exercise of judicial functions in accordance with Article VI, subparagraph 1.b. of this Agreement.
2. The Palestinian Authority shall administer the departments transferred to it and may establish, within its jurisdiction, other departments and subordinate administrative units as necessary for the fulfillment of its responsibilities. It shall determine its own internal procedures.
3. The PLO shall inform the Government of Israel of the names of the members of the Palestinian Authority and any change of members. Changes in the membership of the Palestinian Authority will take effect upon an exchange of letters between the PLO and the Government of Israel.
Abbas’s unilateral action was surprisingly received with little reaction by Israel. Robbie Sabel – a former adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry was moved to declare:4. Each member of the Palestinian Authority shall enter into office upon undertaking to act in accordance with this Agreement.
"Israel won't be happy about it because anything that undermines the peace process, any unilateral act, is not helpful."Unilaterally erasing the identity of Israel’s negotiating partner under the Oslo Accords and renaming it “the State of Palestine” is part of the semantic warfare engaged in by the PLO as it continues to create a false narrative of the Jewish-Arab conflict. The Palestinian Authority’s demise has enabled PLO Chief Negotiator – Saeb Erekat – to assert:
“Palestine is a country under occupation. What was Norway, Finland, Holland, France, Korea, Philippines between 1939 and 1945 – nation states under occupation. Today, the state of Palestine is officially a state under occupation. It has 192 member countries that recognise this and a nation state, Israel, which is the occupying power; these are the new realities."The farce continues – as President Trump gives his apparent imprimatur to meeting with the phantom head of a phantom non-existent Palestinian Authority.
President Trump is sorely mistaken if he believes that maintaining this facade will advance his efforts to end the Arab-Jewish conflict.
Abbas needs to be called out by Trump for abandoning the Oslo Accords and pursuing a policy that will not lead to resolving the long-running conflict – but rather exacerbate it and make it more difficult to resolve.
Trump needs to replace the deceased Palestinian Authority with living Arab negotiating partners.