Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled travel to Washington in mid-April to meet with US President Donald Trump. The report of Abbas heading to the White House came just after Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt visited Israel and the West Bank.
Trump spoke to Abbas for the first time over the phone on 10 March, suggesting the president wishes to become an honest broker in helping the two sides formulate a new agreement to achieve peace and security.
Abbas told Trump’s special peace envoy Greenblatt that he believes a “historic” peace deal with Israel is possible with Trump in office, according to the US Jerusalem Consulate General readout.
During a meeting at the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah, Abbas committed to combat Palestinian incitement, the statement said. The Palestinian leader and Greenblatt also discussed building up the PA’s security forces and improving the Palestinian economy.
The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been adamant that PA- sanctioned media and school curriculum are responsible for inciting terrorism.
The Palestinian daily al-Quds cited sources in the US Congress who said Greenblatt warned Abbas that US lawmakers are working to condition US aid to the Palestinians – with the exception of security assistance – on ending incitement, including payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists.
The PA pays monthly stipends to families who have a member who is considered to have been “martyred,” which usually means being killed by an Israeli while carrying out a terror attack or suspected attack, or who is spending time in Israeli prison for perpetrating a terrorist act.
The US government has already taken measures to ensure its aid is not funnelled to the families of terrorists. That includes paying the debts of the PA directly rather than transferring funds into the PA’s coffers.
Abbas has called numerous times to reinstate the US-Palestinian-Israeli tripartite anti-incitement committee, including at the Seventh Fatah Congress in December. The committee was formed as part of the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, and it met every two months until the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000. However, images depicting and glorifying attacks on Israelis have also been posted on Facebook pages associated with Abbas’s Fatah party.
The US administration is currently said to be weighing how to proceed with a renewed peace effort after Abbas’s visit to Washington. One possibility being considered is a regional summit, to be held in Egypt or Jordan.