Arab depth crucial to Palestinians

Dec 28,2016 -JORDAN TIMES – Daoud Kuttab

It has become an annual tradition: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and members of his government spend a few days before and during Christmas Day in Bethlehem. 

While Abbas’ participation in the midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity is the highlight of the visit, the Palestinian leader has began to host regularly the local Palestinian community. 

This Christmas reception hosted by Abbas enabled him and the local community to converse and exchange ideas and information about life in the Bethlehem area. 

Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun came with the idea of the presidential reception a few years ago, and it has become an annual tradition with some 250 local dignitaries attending.

In his address at this year’s reception, Abbas spoke warmly about Jordan. He denounced the recent events in Karak and expressed condolences to the families of those who were killed by terrorists. 

He praised His Majesty King Abdullah and his leadership of Jordan.

The warm words by the Palestinian president reflect the priorities of the Palestinian leadership after the Fateh congress.

During the late November meeting, the leading Palestinian liberation movement was able to overcome strong regional pressures and finalise the expulsion of Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza Fateh strongman who broke ranks with the leadership and was not invited to attend.

Abbas, who strengthened his own leadership at the Fateh congress, is giving top priority to the need to mend relations with nearby neighbours, Egypt and Jordan.

Abbas made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia after the Fateh congress to thank the Saudi monarch for reinstating the regular Saudi stipend to the Palestinian government.

Saudi Arabia transferred $65 million to the Palestinian coffers shortly after the conclusion of the Fateh congress.

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