Pledging she “will not shut up,” US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday that the Trump administration will not change its decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
But her message at the UN Security Council went unheard by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who opted to leave the chamber prior to Haley’s remarks.
Abbas exited the meeting shortly after he addressed the Security Council — calling out the US for failing to clarify its stance on a two-state solution and keeping the Palestine Liberation Organization on the terror watch list.
“We met with the President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, four times in 2017, and we have expressed our absolute readiness to reach a historic peace agreement,” Abbas said in a rare appearance before the Security Council.
“Yet, this administration has not clarified its position. Is it for the two-state solution or the one-state solution?” he added.
Joined by Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Haley’s speech was designed to deliver a direct message to Abbas: “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”
According to Haley, that choice consists of two different paths.
“There is the path of absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence. That path has led, and will continue to lead, to nothing but hardship for the Palestinian people,” Haley said.
“Or there is the path of negotiation and compromise. History has shown that path to be successful for Egypt and Jordan, including the transfer of territory. That path remains open to the Palestinian leadership, if only it is courageous enough to take it,” she added.
Haley also took the opportunity to respond to comments made earlier this month by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said she should “shut up” with her criticism of Abbas.
“I will decline the advice I was recently given by your top negotiator, Saeb Erekat. I will not shut up. Rather, I will respectfully speak some hard truths,” Haley said.
But Abbas — who left the room after addressing the council — was not present to hear Haley’s comments.
“I expected Mr. Abbas to stay with us and have a dialogue, unfortunately he’s once again running away,” Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said.
“Look what just happened in this room. Mr. Abbas came in, he put his demands on the table, and he left, and he’s expecting you to deliver the results. It’s not going to work that way. The only way to move forward is to have direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.
Moments before, Abbas had once again ruled out the United States as a broker for peace with Israel on Tuesday, calling for an international peace conference by mid-2018 with the key goals of full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine and a timeframe for a two-state solution.
The Palestinians are furious at President Donald Trump for overturning decades of U.S. policy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas called Trump’s pro-Israeli action “dangerous” and has said the president’s action destroyed his credibility as a Mideast peace broker.
“It has become impossible today for one country alone to solve a regional or international conflict without the participation of other international partners,” the Palestinian leader said.
Abbas presented the Palestinians “peace plan” to the council. It calls for mutual recognition by the states of Israel and Palestine based on 1967 borders, and formation of “an international multilateral mechanism” to assist the two parties in resolving all final status issues and implementing them “within a set time frame.”
He said the peace conference should include the Israelis and Palestinians, the five permanent Security Council members and key regional and international governments, noting that 74 countries attended a Mideast peace conference in Paris in January 2017.
Abbas accused Israel of “acting as a State above the law.”
“It has transformed the occupation from a temporary situation … into a situation of permanent settlement colonization,” he said. “How can this happen? Israel shut the door on the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.”
The Palestinian leader added into his prepared remarks: “We are employees for the occupation.”
Abbas said the principle of two-states living side-by-side with full sovereignty must be preserved, but he said the U.S. has not clarified whether it is for a two-state or a one-state solution.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that “there is no Plan B” to a two-state solution. But he warned that “after decades of support, the global consensus for a two-state solution could be eroding.”
The U.N. chief voiced opposition to a one-state solution saying: “It is simply impossible to square the circle of a one-state reality with the legitimate national, historic and democratic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Abbas was the last to arrive in the Security Council, and he left immediately after his speech to attend a reception hosted by the Palestinians, avoiding any direct contact with the Americans or Israelis.
Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying: “Abbas didn’t say anything new. He continues to run away from peace, and continues to pay terrorists and their families $347 million.”
Abbas said nothing new. He continues to run away from peace and continues to pay terrorists and their families $347 million. pic.twitter.com/3NAnRx1QW1
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 20, 2018
Danon accused Abbas of using “hateful speech” and glorifying violence instead of improving the lives of Palestinians.
“Mr. Abbas, you have made it clear with your words and with your actions that you are no longer part of the solution,” he said. “You are the problem.”
Haley disagreed, saying the Trump administration was offering “an outstretched hand” to the Palestinian people and their leaders.
“But we will not chase after you,” Haley said. “The choice, Mr. president, is yours.”
The Palestinian leadership has a choice of two paths — “absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence” which will only lead to hardship for the Palestinian people or “negotiation and compromise” that holds the promise of peace, Haley said.
Though Kushner and Greenblatt didn’t meet Abbas, they did meet informally behind closed doors with Security Council members.
Equatorial Guinea’s U.N. Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba called the fact that they came to the council “very, very important” and “a good sign.” But he said council members “haven’t received any details” of the U.S. proposal for Palestinian-Israeli peace.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said his government received Abbas’ proposal with interest and will study his call for an international conference, but U.S. participation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process “is indispensable.”
(YWN / AP)