RAMALLAH, June 29 (JMCC) - In the face of stalled peace talks the top Palestinian leadership has decided to turn to an old foe as a new partner.
On a recent trip to the United States, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
, met with a group of 30 American Jewish heavyweights in Washington DC to talk and answer questions about the state of affairs in Israel/Palestine.
It was a dramatic departure for the Palestinians, who have traditionally viewed the American Jewish leadership with a mixture of awe, animosity and envy for its political skills and influence over what is seen as a pro-Israel U.S. policy.
Palestinian officials say it was the first time Abbas has met with such a large and diverse group of Jewish leaders, and reflected a realization that courting American Jews could benefit the Palestinians.
I think it's a mistake to ignore these institutions and communities by saying that they are against us, and that we should not talk to them, Abbas told The Associated Press. No, we should sit with them, and we should try to convince them by talking to them.
With indirect U.S.-brokered peace talks just getting under way, Abbas said he also felt it was important to explain his positions. Specifically, he defended his refusal to hold direct negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying more progress is needed before face-to-face talks can begin.
This week, Abbas said in the West Bank that he has heard nothing from Israel to encourage him to move to direct talks — highlighting his decision to find other ways to influence events as efforts to engage Israel falter.
According to a transcript of the June 9 dinner, Abbas made a number of conciliatory statements. He repeatedly condemned violence, recognized the Jewish connection to the Holy Land and informed the audience that he had sent representatives to attend Holocaust commemoration ceremonies in Russia and Poland.
I want to tell everyone that these people suffered, and we are suffering. Now we want peace between each other, Abbas was quoted as saying. He rejected Holocaust denial, a common sentiment in Palestinian society...
The meeting with Abbas follows another engagement between Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
and staunch American Jewish supporter of Israel
, Alan Dershowitz. Read
more at the Associated Press...