Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Palestine's president condemns 'illegal' US Middle East plan at UN Security Council

By Sophie Wingate and Maher Abukhater, dpa Time of article published Feb 12, 2020

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New York/Ramallah - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned US President Donald Trump's Middle East plan at the United Nations Security Council, saying it "legitimizes what is illegal."

"This is an Israeli-American pre-emptive plan in order to put an end to the question of Palestine," Abbas said.

Addressing the 15-member council and UN chief Antonio Guterres through a translator, Abbas said Trump's proposal "legitimizes what is illegal," including Israel's "annexation of Palestinian land."

"We will confront its application on the ground," Abbas said, while stressing that Palestinians would not "resort to terrorism."

He compared the plan's map to "Swiss cheese," saying: "Who among you will accept a similar state and similar conditions?"

Abbas did not slam Trump, however, saying that he didn't know who had given the US president this "unacceptable advice."

The Palestinian leader called for an international conference to pursue the two-state solution demanded in various UN resolutions, noting that the US could not be "the sole mediator."

Abbas concluded that Palestinians and Israelis "only have one choice: we have to be partners, we have to be neighbours, each in their own country, sovereign country."

Israel's ambassador to the UN shot back that if Abbas "was really interested in peace ... he wouldn't be here in New York, he would be in Jerusalem."

"He came here to distract from his unwillingness to negotiate or to speak," Danny Danon said.

Danon called for Abbas' ouster, saying "only when he steps down can Palestinians move forward."

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who later on Tuesday spoke at a press conference alongside Abbas, said the Palestinian leader was a "man of peace" and "the only partner we can deal with."

Olmert, who negotiated with Abbas when he was in office, stressed that he saw an opportunity for renewed dialogue in Trump's Middle East plan.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah earlier Tuesday to show support for Abbas' position against the US plan while he's in New York. The rally was called by Abbas' Fatah party and other factions in the West Bank.

Protesters, some of whom were bussed in, carried Palestinian flags and signs condemning the plan, saying Jerusalem was not for sale.

A planned vote in the Security Council on a draft resolution to condemn Trump's plan was called off following US pressure, several diplomats told dpa on Monday.

The draft resolution was put on hold following a pressure campaign by the United States, which diplomats said involved calls from Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and and one of the architects of his Middle East plan, to council members.

Sources also suggested that the sacking of Tunisia's permanent representative to the UN last Friday was linked to US pressure on the country's government.

Tunisia and Indonesia, both currently Security Council members, had circulated the draft resolution on behalf of the Palestinians to condemn Trump's proposal.

Trump unveiled his controversial plan last month, which he said would end the bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The plan would give Israel control over Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley, while also calling for the creation of a Palestinian state. It differs significantly from the 1967 borders that have previously been the basis for peace plans.

Palestinians have outright rejected the plan, fearing it will recognize Israeli claims to parts of the West Bank that they want for their future state of Palestine.

A poll released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on Tuesday showed that 94 per cent of Palestinians rejected the deal.

dpa

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