Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he does not trust the United States to play a role in future negotiations about the Middle East conflict.
Abbas made these remarks in front of reporters ahead of his meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a conference in Kazakhstan last week.
“We don’t trust America and you know our position. We don’t trust it, we don’t rely on it, and under no circumstances can we accept that America is the sole party in resolving a problem,” Abbas told Putin.
The P.A. president said that the U.S. can play a peacemaking role “within the Quartet – since it is a great country – but we will never accept it as the only one.”
Abbas stressed that he was “happy and satisfied with the Russian position,” in contrast to his view of U.S. President Joe Biden.
The comment came shortly after Abbas, during a U.N General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, told a group of Arab Americans that he scolded U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and called him a “little boy” for not forcing Israel into making peace.
“Abbas can be heard telling the meeting attendees he used to believe U.S. administrations which, he asserted, told him that Israel does not want peace. However, he now realizes that ‘it’s not that the Israelis don’t want peace but the Americans don’t want peace,’” according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Times of Israel.
On Saturday, the Biden administration issued an unprecedented statement in which it expressed it was “disappointed” by Abbas’ remarks.
“We were deeply disappointed to hear President Abbas’ remarks [Thursday] to President Putin,” stated a U.S. National Security Council spokesperson on behalf of the Biden administration.
“Putin is a far cry from the type of international partner needed to constructively address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Russia does NOT stand for justice and international law.”
The statement went on to reiterate Biden’s long commitment to Abbas’ cause.
“President Biden, in contrast, has demonstrated U.S. commitment for decades to seeking creative solutions and working toward the lasting peace needed to advance stability and prosperity throughout the Middle East,” the spokesperson added.
President Biden has good reason to feel snubbed by Abbas, as his criticism of the Biden administration came less than a week after the U.S. had hosted a senior Palestinian official in Washington. Such an invitation had not been extended since 2018, when then-U.S. President Donald Trump shut down the PLO’s diplomatic office in Washington, D.C.
PLO Sec.-Gen. Hussein al-Sheikh was welcomed to Washington last week where he was treated to meetings with Biden’s top officials, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. During those high-level meetings, the U.S. officials confirmed they remain committed to a two-state solution.
However, presumably those meetings – while a departure from the former administration – were not enough to placate the PLO, which felt that it had not achieved any “deliverables,” according to an unnamed official from the P.A.
“There’s still no interest in engaging with political moves. They say some of the right things, but in terms of actions, it’s all through an economic lens,” the Palestinian official said.
The P.A. remains dissatisfied that Biden has kept the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and not pushed Israel back to the negotiation table to restart peace talks, instead of focusing on what Abbas considers ‘low-key issues,’ such seeking to create better economic conditions for Palestinians.