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With clock ticking, Palestinians pin hopes on Paris summit

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Giant Center, in Hershey, Pa. After a pair of diplomatic victories, the Palestinians are now setting their sights on a Mideast peace conference in France next month in a bid to rally support as they prepare for the uncertainty of the Trump Administration.

RAMALLAH, West Bank >> After a pair of diplomatic victories, the Palestinians are now setting their sights on a Mideast peace conference in France next month in a bid to rally support as they prepare for the uncertainty of the Trump administration.

The Palestinians are hopeful that a strong international endorsement in Paris will insulate them from what they fear will be a close alliance between President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

With their hopes for gaining independence in a deep freeze, the Palestinians had a rare week of optimism. First, the U.S. allowed the U.N. Security Council to adopt Resolution 2334, which declared Israeli settlements on occupied lands illegal. Then, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a farewell speech that harshly criticized Israeli settlements, saying Israel’s continued construction was imperiling hopes for a peace agreement and endangering the country’s democracy.

Palestinian officials say they are now counting on the French-hosted Mideast peace conference to build on the momentum and set clear terms of reference for any future negotiations with Israel. Some 70 nations are expected to attend, although Israel and the Palestinians will not be participating.

“The tools we have now are Security Council Resolution 2334, the Kerry speech and the Paris conference,” said Husam Zumlot, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said the Palestinians would seek to make the resolution “a base for any political initiative.”

The Palestinians seek the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, for an independent state. They say that Israeli settlements in these areas, now home to about 600,000 Israelis, are threatening their hopes for independence by taking in lands where they hope to establish their state.

The latest U.N. resolution, along with Kerry’s speech, essentially endorsed the Palestinian position by calling for the pre-1967 lines to serve as the reference point for a final border. Netanyahu, who opposes a return to the 1967 lines, has condemned the moves as “skewed” and “shameful.” Netanyahu says all disputes must be settled through direct negotiations without any preconditions, and that any international pressure undermines the negotiating process.

In a speech on Thursday, Netanyahu dismissed Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians as a “marginal issue.” The real issue, he said, is the “collapse of entire nations, of entire states in internal conflict, and in the wars of radical Islam over the future of the Arab world and the Muslim world.”

With the gaps so wide, and with little faith in the U.S. as a neutral broker, the Palestinians have long tried to engage the international community in their conflict with Israel, seeking membership in the U.N. and other international bodies to promote their cause.

“We are going to end the old formula of direct talks with Israel under U.S. sponsorship,” Zumlot said. “Now we have the tools to do that.”

That strategy appears even more critical as Trump prepares to assume the presidency. While the president elect has not outlined a Mideast strategy, he has given a number of signs that he will be far more sympathetic to Netanyahu than was the Obama White House.

His campaign platform made no mention of Palestinian independence, an objective of Republican and Democrat presidents for the past two decades, and his choice for ambassador to Israel has strong ties to the West Bank settler movement. He has promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite Palestinian objections, and says Obama has treated Israel with “total disdain.”

“Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” Trump wrote on his Twitter feed shortly before Kerry’s speech on Wednesday.

Netanyahu replied with his own tweet, thanking Trump for his “warm friendship” and “clear-cut support for Israel.”

The Palestinians have said little about Trump publicly, but some officials privately say they are concerned about his budding friendship with Netanyahu. Earlier this month, Trump transition officials turned down a request to meet with a Palestinian delegation in Washington, after holding meetings with several senior Israeli officials, including the head of the Mossad spy agency.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian official, played down the Trump-Netanyahu partnership. “What can this alliance to do us?” he said. “They know that any pressure tactics on us would lead to deterioration. That is not in the interest of anyone.”

In the meantime, the Palestinians say they are pressing forward with an outreach program to the Israeli public in hopes of rallying support for moderates who oppose the policies of Netanyahu’s nationalist government.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hosted a group of 13 officials from the Israeli opposition Zionist Union party. Another group of Israeli leaders is expected on Jan. 5.

“We are reaching out to the Israeli society to remind everyone of the mutual interest in the two-state solution,” said Ziad Darwesh, an official in the Palestinian outreach program. “We see changes in the Israeli society.”

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  • Palestinians do not recognized Israel as a state and a right to exist so why should Israel do the same for them. for years Israel offered them the west bank and East Jerusalem as there capital city in return all Israel asked for from them is to stop terrorist activities and recognized Israel as a right to exist but Palestinians won’t do that, there goal is to destroy Israel and drive the Jews into the sea.

    • The Palestinians seek the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, for an independent state….The latest U.N. resolution, along with Kerry’s speech, essentially endorsed the Palestinian position by calling for the pre-1967 lines to serve as the reference point for a final border.

      Why on earth should Israel give back even one square inch to the feral, Arab terrorists who launched the 1967 attack to wipe out Israel and all the Jews in the region. Israel won a spectacular come from behind victory in a mere 6 days and used the conquered territories as a vital buffer against future attacks. They have tried “negotiating” with these sub human Palestinian terrorists, even giving up land in hopes of peace, and were burned EVERY time they made that mistake.

      The traitor John Kerry is, as usual, WRONG. The whole “peace process” and the so called “two state solution” are both dead as doornails. Thus it would be suicidal for Israel to meekly give up ANY of its territory in order to return to its pre-1967 borders.

      Fortunately President Elect Trump understands this and is set to bond strongly with PM Netanyahu on this issue.

      Prediction: the murdering, f e r a l sub human Palestinian terrorists who lust for the destruction of all Jews – – man woman and child – – in the region as “the final solution” are going to be frustrated in their attempts at evil doing by the joint Trump/Netanyahu determination to keep Israel alive and secure.

    • In this context, I have long maintained that the current occupant of the White House (at least for the next 22 days) is indeed something of an historic first: the very first President we have put into office had who actually HATES America.

      And for those who might be tempted to doubt it, here is a link to a VERY perceptive writer who has expressed this notion more than three years ago far better than I ever could:

      http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/scott/130301

      Enjoy

    • No peace conference or anything else will do any the Palestinians good. The Palestinians doom themselves to abject poverty by multiplying like lemmings in a junk desert land.

      • I think that the Conference will highlight the injustice of the present occupation and the need for the Israeli’s to compensate the Palestinians for Israel’s illegal seizures and persecution of the Palestinian people.

        It means a lot. The world will not forget and ignore this kind of behavior.

  • There is hope here…. hope that China attends. They are rapidly becoming an economic force greater than the US.

    They hope to be influential in the future in Africa, land-wise the biggest continent, where they are putting in so many investments. This has done a lot for peace in the region.

  • also this notion of the west bank and east Jerusalem that Palestinians want a state is full of it. because back in September 2008 before the nut became president the Israeli prime minister at that time, can’t think of his name its starts with an M gave abbas the leader of the Palestinians a plan for a two state solution giving them all of the west bank and east Jerusalem, abbas took the plans to his defense people to study it and they never gave a reply that was the last anything was done and now the Palestinians are saying we want this, they were already offered that in 2008 and nerobama knew that when he took office in January 2009, the press should look it up and stop printing lies about this situation.

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