US peace move like ‘herding cows to slaughter’

Ishtayeh lists Trump’s decisions as proof of attempt to corner Palestinians

15:12 March 7, 2018

Ramallah: US President Donald Trump’s hardline approach to the Palestinians is similar to herding cows for slaughter, a top Palestinian official said on Tuesday.

The comments came a day after the US president welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington and ahead of the expected launch of Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“Today what is happening with us is what you call in the United States a cattle shoot trap,” Mohammad Ishtayeh, a top adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, said.

“They bring the cattle in a yard with one single exit, with a man on a horse and a whip. And they keep pushing the cow into the trap. By the time every single cow gets through, it is shot in the head with an electric gun, then goes in a belt to the slaughtering house, then we eat it as hamburger. With the Palestinians, what is happening is exactly the same.”

He listed a number of controversial Trump decisions, including December’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his freezing of tens of millions in dollars in funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, as evidence of a systematic attempt to squeeze them.

Both the Palestinians and Israel see occupied Jerusalem as their capital and the US decision to move its embassy in Israel there prompted the Palestinians to say the White House could no longer be the primary mediator between the two sides.

On Monday during a meeting with Netanyahu, Trump said he might attend the opening of the embassy in May.

Despite the poor relations with the Palestinians, the White House is still expected to present a proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace in the coming weeks.

“The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,” Trump said as he sat alongside Netanyahu at the White House.

“If they don’t, you don’t have peace. And that’s a possibility also.”

Ishtayeh objected to Trump’s suggestion the Palestinians have walked away from peace negotiations, saying US policies in favour of Israel have pushed the Palestinians away from any future process.

“When ... President Trump says the Palestinians are running away from the negotiating table, which negotiating table? Since he came to power, there have been no negotiations whatsoever.”