Palestinians to discuss Trump’s Jerusalem response

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Senior Palestinian leaders will meet in Ramallah today to debate responses to US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Among the options to be considered is the potential suspension of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) recognition of Israel, delegates said.

Such a move could call into question a founding principle of the peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians and threaten decades of agreements with Israel, including on security.

Scepticism is widespread that the leadership will follow through with such an unpredictable step, but the fact that it is being discussed will be taken as a measure of the level of anger towards the Trump administration.

The two-day meeting of the Palestinian Central Council will begin late today, with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas expected to open with a brief address.

Palestinian protesters take cover from tear gas during clashes with Israeli forces on January 12, north of Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. – AP

The 121-member council is a high-ranking arm of the PLO, the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian people, and includes members of different parties.

Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has infuriated the Palestinian leadership, who see at least the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future state they have sought to gain through American-led negotiations.

His administration has also not publicly committed to the idea of an independent Palestinian state, and the PLO office in Washington was briefly closed down.

Abbas has said after the recognition the Americans can no longer play a role as mediator, and is expected to shun Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence when he visits Israel on January 22-23.

Ahmed Majdalani, a senior PLO official, told AFP that a committee created to formulate responses to Trump’s announcement would recommend redefining the Palestinian relationship with Israel.

Among the options, he said, was suspending recognition of Israel, accusing the Jewish state of failing to abide by agreements.

“It is not possible for the Palestinian side to remain the only one committed to the agreements signed while the other side (Israel) is not committed to them and has violated them for years,” Majdalani said.

Previous Palestinian threats to suspend security coordination or recognition of Israel have not been carried out. In 2015, the council voted to end security cooperation with Israel but it was not implemented, with the rulings not binding on Abbas.