Report: Abbas met with U.S. businessmen to establish back channel to Trump

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with American businessmen in Ramallah earlier this month in an attempt to set up a back channel for contacts with the incoming administration of Donald Trump.

On Jan. 2, Abbas met in Ramallah with hedge fund manager Daniel Arbess, who is Jewish, and with the Palestinian billionaire Adnan Mjalli, who owns businesses in the US and elsewhere, The Times of Israel reported Friday.

The purpose of the meeting was to set up an indirect diplomatic channel between Abbas and President-elect Donald Trump via the businessmen, the report said.

Arbess was dispatched to Ramallah to send messages to Abbas and relay his responses back to Washington, ahead of Trump’s inauguration on January 20. However, he was not directly sent by Trump.


Arbess is considered to be close to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is expected to take up a senior White House role in the new administration.

During the meeting, Arbess convinced Abbas that Trump is serious about moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to Haaretz, which first reported on the meeting.

However, last week, Abbas told members of Israel’s left-wing Meretz party he did not believe Trump would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Also present at the meeting was senior Palestine Liberation Organization negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian security chief Majed Faraj.