Trump team disavows discussion of embassy move with Abbas
Barak Ravid, Haaretz, Jan 13 2017
Senior members of Donald Trump’s transition team on Friday disavowed Pindo businessman Daniel Arbess, who told Abu Mazen earlier this week that Trump was serious about moving the Pindo embassy from Tel Aviv to Jayloomia. The Trump representatives stressed that Arbess in no way represents Trump or any of his advisers. Haaretz reported on Friday morning that Arbess had presented himself to senior Palestinian officials as being close to the Trump team and a friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt told Haaretz:
Daniel Arbess does not represent Pres-elect Trump, Jared Kushner or anyone in the upcoming Trump administration in any manner, nor does he know Pres-elect Trump’s views about Israel, the PA or the peace process. Only President-elect Trump or those designated by him speak on behalf of the upcoming Trump administration.
Another top official in Trump’s transition team commented more harshly:
Mr Arbess barely knows Mr Kushner. We hope others will not try to so brazenly misrepresent their relationships, and claim to speak on behalf of Mr Trump or his administration.
Overnight on Thursday, Haaretz reported that it was a meeting with Arbess that convinced Abu Mazen that Trump was serious in his intentions to move the embassy. Until the meeting with Arbess, Abu Mazen interpreted Trump’s declarations about moving the embassy as mere election slogans. But after the meeting in Ramallah, Abbas launched a campaign against the move. A few months ago, Arbess decided to ramp down his business activities and spend his time advancing solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The source says Arbess has friendly ties with Jared Kushner, as they sit beside each other at the Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue on the Upper East Side. Around two weeks ago, Arbess approached senior officials in the office of Mahmoud Abbas, President opf the PA, through the mediation of another Pindo hustler, asking to meet with Abbas and Saeb Erekat. The man who arranged the meeting introduced Arbess as a man close to Trump’s staff. By then, all requests by Abbas for a meeting with Trump had been denied. Hearing that Arbess was close to Trump’s staff, PA officials agreed to his request and arranged a meeting with Abbas., where reportedly Arbess told Abbas that Trump was serious about moving the embassy and might announce this shortly after being sworn in. A few days later, Abbas sent a letter warning Trump about the fallout of moving the embassy, and called on Trump to reconsider his support for such a move. Wafa reported:
Abbas told Trump that such move will likely have disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region, since Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts with international law.
Several Arab ambassadors have met with senior Trump advisers in recent days, warning them not to move the embassy.