1. Mahmoud Abbas and senior figures in the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah and the PLO were generally restrained in their reactions to the election of Donald Trump. However, their remarks hinted at concern over a greater pro-Israeli bias in the new American administration, based on statements made by Trump during the campaign. Their worst concerns are that the new president will abandon the two state solution, support construction in the settlements, and move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
2. Palestinian spokesmen stressed that the election of the president was an internal American matter, claimed the Palestinians respected the Americans' choice and would collaborate with the new president. The solution for the Palestinian problem, said Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinian figures, had to be based on two states with the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee, claimed that in the past both the Republican and Democratic parties had stated that the two-state solution was in America's "national interest." He called for the implementation of the solution, claiming it would lead to peace and security in the Middle East.
3. However, an exception was a statement was made by Riyad Mansour, permanent Palestinian observer to the UN. He threatened president-elect Trump, saying the Palestinians had an arsenal of diplomatic weapons in the UN. He warned that if Trump moved the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinians would "make his life miserable" in the UN agencies. The Palestinians could, he claimed, call an emergency meeting of the Security Council, file daily requests for permanent UN member status and again raise the issue of the International Criminal Court decisions regarding the separation fence and the settlements.
4. Hamasalso refrained from hostile statements about Trump's victory at the polls and the issue was not widely covered by the Hamas media. Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, and the Hamas media called on the president-elect to "correct" American policy, which was, they claimed, biased in favor of Israel. Khaled Mashaal claimed Trump had to understand that Israel was a burden for the Americans and an obstacle to peace, and that peace could only be achieved through "justice for the Palestinian people" and "the end of the occupation" (euphemisms for Western ears whose real significance, for Hamas, is the destruction of the State of Israel).
5. Hamas spokesmen, in the meantime, were skeptical about the chances for a change in the United States' traditional tendency towards pro-Israeli policies in the wake of Trump's victory. For example, senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Hayasaid that during the past decades there had been close relations and cooperation between the American administrations and Israel, and the situation could not be expected to change after Trump's election. At the Jerusalem Forum held in Istanbul, Khaled Mashaalissued a veiled threat, saying if the United States did not change its policies, the Palestinians were capable of changing the course of history.
Initial Reactions of Senior Figures in the PA, Fatah and the PLO
1. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbassent his congratulations to president-elect Donald Trump. He said he hoped a political agreement and that peace could be achieved during Trump's presidency (Wafa, November 9, 2016). At a joint press conference held with Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas called on Trump to work for the implementation of the two-state solution. The election of the president, he said, was an internal American matter. As far as the Palestinians were concerned, he said, what was important was what Trump would do and say once he entered the White House (Facebook page of Mahmoud Abbas, November 11, 2016).
2. Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians would work with any elected American president for peace in the Middle East based on the two-state solution, with the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as the capital [of the Palestinian state]. He added that the American administration had to achieve regional peace and stability by finding a solution for the Palestinian issue(Wafa, November 9, 2016).
3. Riyad al-Maliki, PA foreign minister, said he was concerned Trump would adhere to complete support for Israeland try to mislead [the world] by saying Israel had the right to continue construction in the settlements. In that case, Trump would change not only America's position but also international law, and the international community would have to bear the responsibility. However, he said the Palestinians had to wait and see, because there was a difference between what candidates said during an election campaign and what they did once they took office.
4. Riyad Mansour, Palestinian observer to the UN, warned of the consequences of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said such a step would violate UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. He said such an act would be a demonstration of anti-Palestinian aggression, which would push [the Palestinians] to make Trump's life miserable and "use all their 'weapons' in the UN to defend themselves." He added that the Palestinians had "winning cards" in UN agencies which they could use to exert pressure to prevent such a step. The Palestinians, he claimed, could file daily requests for permanent member status in the UN, call emergency sessions of the Security Council, and "reopen the file" of the ICC decision concerning the separation fence and the settlements (al-Quds, Ma'an, November 13, 2016).
5. Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Itasaid American foreign policy did not change with the president, and that the United States permanently and openly sided with Israelregardless of whether the president was Democratic or Republican. He called on the president-elect to change American foreign policy, which was biased towards Israel, to act like the leader of a world power and respect the rights of the Palestinians (Khabar Press, November 9, 2016).
6. Amin Maqboul, secretary of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, said that the Palestinian leadership would have no problem working with the new American administration. However, he said, the Palestinian leadership would examine the positions and public declarations of the president concerning the Palestinian cause, especially the issue of the settlements, to decide how to conduct itself vis-à-vis the new administration. He also said all the president-elect's statements so far had been pro-Israeli and that would be taken into account (alresala.net, November 9, 2016).
7. Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, said that the Palestinians were not surprised by the president-elect's positions. He said it was a mistake to think that American policies would change because Israel played a central role in America's strategic security. He said that if Hillary Clinton had been elected she would have been no better than Trump because the Palestinians' bitter experience had shown that when she was secretary of state no progress had been made in the Palestinian cause (Sama News, November 13, 2016).
8. Nasr al-Laham, head of the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, was interviewed by the agency's satellite TV station, regarding the results of the American presidential election. He discussed the worry of the Palestinians and the Arab states about the concept of the two-state solution in the wake of Trump's victory. Their main concern, he said, was that the president-elect would unpredictable decisions. As to the French initiative, al-Laham said Trump would reveal what was hidden in it because he spoke with unprecedented sincerity (Ma'an, November 12, 2016).
9. Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee, said that during the presidencies of Bush and Obama both the Republican and Democratic parties had said the two-state solution was an American "national interest." He added that the Palestinians expected the new American administration to put the concept of the two-state solution into practice. Security, he said, peace and stability would come to the region only when the Israeli occupation which began in 1967 was defeated; and an independent Palestinian state was established with the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as it capital, existing in peace and security alongside the State of Israel (Quds.net, November 9, 2016).
10. Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, said the Palestinian people respected the will of the people in choosing their president, and that the Palestinians had no problem with any president in view of their desire to realize their right to establish an independent state and end the occupation of their lands. He added that peace and security in the Middle East depended on the resolution of the Palestinian issue (Quds.net, date, 2016).
Initial Hamas Reactions
1. Hamas said in a formal statement that the Palestinian people were still suffering and the Palestinian problem continued because the American administrations supported Israel's interests. Therefore, Hamas called on president-elect Donald Trump to reevaluate American foreign policy and act for the sake of justice for the Palestinian people(Hamas website, November 9, 2016).
2. Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, sent a message to president-elect Trump during a speech delivered via video to participants at the 11th International Forum of Youth for Jerusalem held in Istanbul. He called on Trump to reconsider American policy and not be biased in favor of Israel. He said that there would be no regional stability without recognition of the "rights" of Palestine. He also said Trump was wrong if he thought he could ignore the Palestinian cause and give Israel a green light to do as it pleased, and at the same time bring stability [to the region]. He said it was time for Trump to acknowledge that Israel was a burden on Americaand an obstacle to peace, and that the way to peace was to "treat fairly" with the Palestinians and end the occupation. He added that if the United States did not change its policy, the Palestinians were capable of changing the course of history(Hamas website and al-Anadolu, November 10, 2016).
3. Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said they hoped the United States would treat the Middle East fairly and not be biased towards Israel (al-Manar, November 9, 2016). He also said that during the past few decades the American administration and Israel had collaborated closely and had good relations, and that would not change because Donald Trump had been elected. He said the new administration was obliged to support and aid Israel. He called on the president-elect to reevaluate American foreign policy, collaborate with the Palestinians, and recognize them as an occupied people(Filastin Online, November 10, 2016)
Hamas Anti-Trump Cartoons
Trump as Hitler on a Hamas website (alresala.net, November 10, 2016)
Trump on the Gazan Shehab Facebook page. The Arabic reads, "The Zionist lobby and its influence on American decision-making" (Facebook page of Shehab, November 9, 2016).