In UN speech, Abbas goes global in search for peace broker
ABBAS MOMANI (AFP/File)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday called for the convening of an international conference by mid-2018 to pave the way for recognition of Palestinian statehood as part of a wider Middle East peace process.
After freezing contacts with the United States over President Donald Trump's December decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Abbas cast a wide net in search for a new partners to shepherd negotiations with Israel.
"To solve the Palestine question, it is essential to establish a multilateral international mechanism emanating from an international conference," Abbas told the UN Security Council.
The ageing Palestinian leader also outlined his own plan to revive stalled peace negotiations, offering to suspend the PA's attempts to join a raft of global institutions.
In exchange, he insisted that the global conference must result in a State of Palestine being accepted as a UN member, recognition by Israel of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders and the formation of a mechanism that would "assist" the two parties to reach a final settlement.
Abbas also put forward terms of reference for negotiations that would almost certainly be dismissed by Israel, including recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
He also demanded that during the negotiations both sides refrain from "unilateral actions" and the revocation of the United States' decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as lead mediator in the Middle East peace process.
In December, the General Assembly voted 128-9, with 35 abstentions, to reject the US decision to recognize Jerusalem.
US envoy Nikki Haley responded in her own remarks that "that decision will not change."
Abbas' address came just weeks after Haley launched a scathing attack on the Palestinian leader and accused him of lacking the courage needed for peace.
Haley was accompanied to Tuesday's council meeting by Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy for Middle East peace and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in law and adviser on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Afterwards, a White House spokesman said they will continue "working on" their peace plan.
"We were hoping to hear some new and constructive ideas and the recognition that Jerusalem is holy to Jews in addition to Muslims and Christians is a step in the right direction," he said, but added that "setting forth old talking points and undeveloped concepts for each of the core issues will not achieve peace. We are trying to do the opposite."
The Palestinian leader immediately left the council chamber following his address, leaving Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon to complain that he was once again "running away" from dialogue.
Danon nevertheless addressed the Palestinian leader in fiery speech, saying "you are no longer part of the solution. You are the problem."
Tensions have also flared over the US decision to cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Abbas told the gathered diplomats that "if you end your assistance [the Palestinian refugees] will become terrorists or refugees in Europe. It is either that or you continue to support UNRWA."
UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said before Abbas' address that the international community must continue advocating for "substantial Israeli policy changes" on settlements and stressed that "these are not negotiations between equals."
He also warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza could further erode, with "dramatic consequences."
The United Nations granted Palestine the status of a non-member observer state in 1992, but an upgrade to full membership would require unanimous backing from the Security Council -- an unlikely outcome, given the near-certainly of a US veto.
AFP contributed to this report.
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Abbas would do much better at stand up comedy. his demands are not only laughable, they are never going to happen!
danin is 101% right