'We must speak to the Zionist lobby': Abbas urges Palestinian Americans to engage with AIPAC

Published date04 October 2022
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
In a recording of his meeting last month with Palestinian Americans on the sidelines of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York City obtained by The Times of Israel, Abbas also faulted the current Biden administration for not doing enough to pressure Israel into reopening Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations

"You must talk to everyone in order to arrive at your goal … You must not exclude anyone … including the Zionist lobby," Abbas said. "There are many people who say that the Zionist lobby is the most dangerous. No! We must speak to the Zionist lobby."

He added that George Mitchell, the former Maine senator who led negotiations with the Israelis and the Palestinians in the first Obama administration term, told Abbas not to meet with AIPAC. Mitchell denied that narrative in a statement to The Times of Israel.

"President Abbas' recollection is incorrect as to me. I don't know about his conversations with others, but I can state categorically that there never was any such conversation with me," Mitchell wrote.

Abbas' endorsement of engagement with AIPAC is significant as calls from the left and among pro-Palestinians to boycott and disengage from the group grow louder — in part because it is friendly with Republicans who are close to former President Donald Trump and in part because it was seen as an enabler of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who largely abandoned the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over the course of his tenure.

Abbas said J Street, the Jewish Middle East policy lobby set up as a dovish counterweight to AIPAC, was "nice," but he emphasized that it was important to reach out to the predominant voices, noting that he prioritized meetings with Netanyahu's Likud Party and has also maintained outreach to US Republicans, who are among the Palestinian Authority's fiercest critics.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, an affiliate of the Palestinian Authority, as recently as Sept. 13 met with an AIPAC delegation and posted...

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