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Alone in the wrestling ring: Reactions to Abbas-Trump meeting

Abbas met with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 May, 2017

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The Palestinian press reacted with a mix of scepticism and muted praise after President Mahmoud Abbas' meeting with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
The Palestinian press reacted with a mix of scepticism and muted praise after President Mahmoud Abbas' meeting with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

The partisan reaction to the visit, the first meeting between the Palestinian leader and Trump, was most evident in Hamas and Fatah websites.

"Abbas applauds himself alone in Washington," read one headline in Al-Resaleh, a pro-Hamas website.

The daily said the US media were more focused on the Hamas charter than Abbas' visit, with the Palestinian Authority president "alone in the wrestling ring" with Trump and completely powerless.

A caricature in the daily depicts Abbas, dressed in his underwear, begging to a Donald Trump dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

Al-Resaleh

"After meeting with Trump, Abbas will either succumb or become trapped," an opinion article in the Hamas daily was entitled. 

Abbas "deserves a medal of bravery" if he maintains steadfastness in the face of the "dollar king" and "friend of Israel" Trump, the article added.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri echoed the sentiment on Twitter, saying "No one authorised Mahmoud Abbas to represent the Palestinian people."

Palestinian Authority and mainstream press were more upbeat.

The Jerusalem daily Al-Quds signalled approval of the meeting, using the headline: "Trump: I welcome President Abbas in the White House as a peacemaker."

The paper tried to portray Abbas as statesmanlike, noting that he was personally welcomed by Trump as he exited his car.

An op-ed in the daily, however, cautioned readers to lower their expectations. 

Nasser Lahham, editor-in-chief of Bethlehem-based news site Ma'an News Agency, wrote that Abbas did not bring anything new to the White House in terms of demands.

He warned that any kind of "honeymoon" between Trump and the Arab world would be quickly over if the US moved the embassy to Jerusalem.

"One spark after another will ignite under the domes of mosques and the bells of churches, until the entire field will be ablaze," he wrote.

Al-Ayyam, a PA affiliated news site, wrote that the compromise Abbas is offering Trump is in "Israel's interest", but that the extreme Israeli right-wing will reject it.

Despite the polarised coverage in Hamas and Fatah news sites, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal called on the US president to find an "equitable solution" for Palestinians.

"This is a historic opportunity to pressure Israel... to find an equitable solution for the Palestinian people," he told CNN.

"And it will be to the credit of the civilised world and the American administration to stop the darkness that we have been suffering from for many years."

Hamas released an amended policy document on Tuesday which for the first time shows a willingness to accept the idea of a Palestinian state within borders that existed after the 1967 Israeli occupation.

The new charter recognises the PLO as the political framework for Palestinian national aspirations, and aligns with Fatah's position regarding a solution to the conflict.

Trump, for his part, said: "I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

"Let's see if we can prove them wrong. We will get it done." 

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