Days after US President Donald Trump phoned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and urged him to finally make peace with Israel, a top Israeli government official said Abbas is not a genuine partner for peace.
“Israel is just telling the truth about Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas] extreme positions, which negate the existence of [Israel] as a Jewish state,” National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) told Israel Radio.
Abbas is expected to visit the White House at Trump’s invitation in the coming months.
Before that happens, Abbas is hoping to forge some kind of unity amongst the fractious organizations - both political and military - that make up the Palestinian Authority.
At an urgent meeting called in Ramallah on Sunday, Abbas stressed that “national” unity was needed in order effectively negotiate with the new American president.
The fact that Abbas does not have effective control of the territories supposedly under his rule has been a major sticking point for Israel when it comes to making land concessions.
For instance, the Palestinian Authority was supposed to govern the Gaza Strip following Israel’s withdrawal, but the coastal enclave was quickly and easily seized by Hamas.