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Abbas warns Security Council, Palestinians could become ‘refugees or terrorists in Europe’

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday at the United Nations Security Council that President Donald Trump had harmed prospects for peacemaking when he made the “dangerous” and “unlawful” decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December. It was Abbas’ first speech with senior White House officials in attendance since communication with U.S. negotiators abruptly ended nearly three months ago, although both sides have disparaged the other in that period.

Abbas told the UN ambassadors he met with the Trump “four times in 2017” and “repeatedly reaffirmed” his commitment to a two-state solution. “Yet this administration has not clarified its position. Is it for the two-State solution, or for one-State?” Abbas questioned.

Yet Abbas, however frustrated with the U.S., told the Security Council he is not ready to part ways.

The Palestinian leadership has sought in recent years an international team of negotiators in which the U.S. is but one of many foreign government brokering a deal with Israel. Palestinians hope international involvement will give them a better agreement than working with the U.S. alone.

Abbas then called for an international conference taking place “mid-2018” in Moscow. He outlined principles tied to previous UN resolutions and commitments signed by both Israel and the Palestinians: mutual recognition between Israel and a state of Palestine based on 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, a halt to settlement growth, “minimal land swaps, in equal value and ratio,” a “just and agreed solution for the Palestine refugees,” and “halting transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.”

Abbas included an off-the-cuff warning for Europe on the issue of honoring international law, guaranteeing Palestinian refugees the right to return. Abbas said, “It’s either that or they will become refugees and terrorists in Europe.”

The conference will be a second of its kind. A similar summit was held in France in January 2017. The U.S. and Israel boycotted the meeting.

While speeches were still on-going in New York, Palestinian commentators in Ramallah began criticizing Abbas for re-playing his strategy. Abbas’ former advisor Diana Buttu said his “address was yet another iteration of speeches long ago, in which he once again implored the world to convene an international conference to address Palestinian rights.”

In Washington, Zaha Hassan, an attorney and fellow at New America who was a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team from 2010 to 2012 said, “The best Abbas can hope for is that the world will not break ranks and join the U.S. in twisting international law and principles to Israel’s will.”

“The help Abbas seeks will have to be led from Palestinians themselves, not from outside,” she added.

After Abbas spoke, UN ambassador Nikki Haley addressed the Security Council, saying: “The Palestinian leadership has a choice to make between two different paths.” Abbas can resume pre-talks with the Trump administration, or choose a “path of absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence.”

She went on: “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”

The White House envoys Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, who is Donald Trump’s son-in-law, do not usually attend this forum, but they were seated nearby.

Haley also took a moment to address Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, who a month earlier told her to “shut up” in an interview.

“I will not shut up,” she emphatically stated, “Rather, I will respectfully speak some hard truths.”

When Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon took the microphone to speak, Abbas got up and walked out the exit. “I expected Mr. Abbas to stay with us and have a dialogue unfortunately he is once again running away,” Danon said, later affirming, “The only way to move forward is with direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.” 

Later in the day White House spokesperson Josh Raffel who deals with the Middle East portfolio issued a statement that the Trump administration “will continue working on our plan which is designed to benefit both the Israeli and Palestinian people. We will present it when it is done and the time is right.”

Raffel noticeably had a few positive words on Abbas. “[H]is recognition that Jerusalem is holy to Jews in addition to Muslims and Christians is a step in the right direction.”

A veteran peace processor also praised the speech.



Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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16 Responses

  1. Citizen on February 21, 2018, 11:59 am

    I listened to about 20 different state responses to ABBas speech on CSPAN, all except the American one stated the settler expansion was a big problem not conducive to peace. None supported Trump on Jerusalem. All supported 2-state solution. Small third world states savaged Israel.

  2. eljay on February 21, 2018, 12:40 pm

    … Abbas included an off-the-cuff warning for Europe on the issue of honoring international law, guaranteeing Palestinian refugees the right to return. Abbas said, “It’s either that or they will become … terrorists in Europe.” …

    Was this deliberate sabotage by Abbas or is he just a complete idiot? With friends like Abbas, the Palestinians don’t need enemies.

    • Jasonius Maximus on February 21, 2018, 1:58 pm

      I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, Abbas is either the most useful and unwitting idiot on the planet or the the biggest stooge in the history of the Occupation!

      Every single time he opens his mouth he sticks another foot in there. Never before has someone managed to do so little for so long with so much at his disposal. He has literally set back the Palestinian people, their cause, their freedom from tyranny, their sovereignty and their independence by 15 years. Only when this sorry sod finally moves on will there be any hope of meaningful progress for the poor Palestinians he has so poorly served.

      • genesto on February 22, 2018, 12:24 pm

        Abbas is nothing but a tired old man trying to maintain his comfortable life in Ramallah, afforded to him compliments of his Israeli masters.

        The sooner he fades from the scene, the more hopeful it will be for the Palestinians.

  3. HarryLaw on February 21, 2018, 1:24 pm

    Agree totally with you eljay, no wonder the Israelis love Abbas.

  4. HarryLaw on February 21, 2018, 1:30 pm

    Haley [“I am the new Sheriff in town” there will be no more Israel bashing], Kushner and Greenblatt funders of the illegal settlement enterprise and Danon whose Likud party charter claims sovereignty over all of Palestine, they are great negotiating partners [Israeli firsters par excellence, and I don’t think, Just more time is needed for more facts on the ground in the form of settlements to guarantee the one state solution the Israelis want, the Palestinians will be offered Bantustans where they will be able to govern themselves without representation in the Knesset and all within the sovereign Israeli state. This plan was outlined by Naftali Bennet in his NYT article in November 2014 Who can Abbas appeal to in the region? His friends the Saudis are in bed with Kushner and would sell the Palestinians down the river in a heartbeat, the Eyptians have just signed a huge gas deal with Israel, also it is unlikely the Europeans will dare to cross the US. Which leaves only the ‘arc of resistance’ Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon [Hezbollah] led by Russia, although I don’t think Abbas will join such an alliance even though that group have promised to liberate the Palestinians. Nothing looks promising.

    • Abierno on February 21, 2018, 3:55 pm

      Given the history of carnage in both Gaza and the West Bank, given the increasing humanitarian crisis in Gaza (lack of medicine, fresh water, food insecurity) as well as the amplification of all the aforementioned problems by Trump/Kushner/Greenblatt decisions to defund UNWRA and to unilaterally declare Jerusalem – in its entirety – the provenance of Israel, inquiring minds would wonder if Abbas is moving to invoke Resolution 377 A – notably that the Security Council has failed to act as required to maintain international peace and security. Such proposal would probably be strongly supported by not only Russia and China but also several of the non permanent members of the council. Trump’s vox persona have already clearly implied that any attempt to give the settlers anything less than annexation of the West bank will result in a civil war in an already unstable, badly divided Jewish Israel. Israel is also in conflict with Lebanon, Syria, Russia (through support of Daesh and other terrorists), Iran, Hezbollah. The hegemon is currently financially insolvent and as regards military prowess – far behind Russia and China. No one knows which of the strong Palestine allies would step in if the millions of Palestinians were to stage an uprising. However, the predictable Israeli massacres has the potential to trigger Hezbollah and subsequently Iranian support. Palestine is not Yemen. Its people are educated, articulate and very effective in their use of the internet. Given that both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are both highly unstable (MbS just imported 1,000 Pakastani troops to provide “order” since family, popular and Shia dissension is reaching ever increasing heights). A Palestinian uprising could well inflame an already “burning” middle east as many players are well aware. Unfortunately, Haley, Greenblatt, Kushner and Trump are approaching the situation as though it were 20 years ago, when the US was a strong and financially viable hegemon. It is for this reason Haley’s delusional, narcissistic commentary to Abbas has been widely mocked on the internet. Finally, it should be noted that except for Ms. Haley, Abbas was given a loud round of applause for his comments, a fact virtually never noted in western media reports.

      • JustJessetr on February 22, 2018, 8:54 am

        Dear Sir,

        Your Game of Thrones script was rejected under the laughable suggestion that Israel is insolvent. Please try again at a further date.

      • MHughes976 on February 24, 2018, 11:16 am

        I am not sure that Palestine has any really strong allies – well, Iran is no weakling but has many enemies. Russia and China want to do business through the status quo.

  5. on February 21, 2018, 2:27 pm

    Useless is the word for Abbas – he has lined his pockets and done nothing to further the plight of the Palestinians. I don’t know of another Palestinian that wants him or his crew around. He should take his loot and buzz off.

    New principled younger leadership is needed to guide and champion the Palestinians and their causes.

  6. Kay24 on February 21, 2018, 7:51 pm

    Netanyahu is going to be exposed for the liar and crook he is, but unfortunately he will be replaced by yet another ruthless zionist leader, who will continue the occupation, and keep building illegal settlements on stolen lands. Zionists have no shame, conscience, and think they are above all international laws.

    Netanyahu’s good buddy to spill the beans:

  7. Abuadam on February 21, 2018, 10:34 pm

    His Swiss bank account must be running low on funds. As soon as the US/Israel replenish it he will be back groveling at the so called negotiating table.

    Just another two bit Arab despot with his sons in tow, nothing to see here.

  8. inbound39 on February 21, 2018, 10:35 pm

    I would not be too sure about EU not crossing the floor to oppose US and Israel. Everyone is getting a little tired of the pompous fools in charge of both countries and the harm they have both caused in the Middle East. Abbas at least had the fortitude to get up and tell it like it is. Haley of course has never liked hearing the truth…..she prefers to hear the lies spewing forth from her mouth.

  9. Ossinev on February 22, 2018, 7:37 am

    Abbas is and always has been nothing more nor less than a Palestinian variation on Marshal Petain with a dash of Chamberlain thrown in for good measure. The priority for him and for the small group in his cabal is not the plight of the Palestinians but the need for themselves to continue as “players” in the International game = charade of the so called Peace Process with all those lovely 5 star perks.

    Like the Yahoo he is on his way out but he will leave kicking and screaming about being victimised and still clutching the gold he has amassed.

    The problem for Israel and the current US is that he far and away is the best weapon in their status quo settlement building armoury .The jibes of morons like Danon and Haley in this context are perversely quite positive as they will simply reinforce his image amongst the younger generation of Palestinians as being an impotent and derided collaborator and will hasten his departure.

    He is just as guilty as the Zios in his pretences and lies about the continued “viability” of the dead but as yet unburied 2SS.

    • Misterioso on February 22, 2018, 10:36 am

      For the record:
      Forward – February 21, 2018

      “American Jews Have Never Needed Israel”
      By Michael Robin

      “In a recent Forward article about a new study on young American Jewry, Batya Ungar-Sargon explains that Israel’s far-right turn has left young Jews increasingly disconnected from modern day Israel, and even the idea of a Jewish State itself. While highlighting some important developments that make clear the urgent need for justice in Israel/Palestine and a change of course in the American Jewish establishment’s approach to Israel advocacy, the article relies on some foundational assumptions about what young Jews want and what they need in order to remain engaged with Jewish communities and Jewishness.”

  10. mig on February 23, 2018, 1:57 pm

    “” Danon said, later affirming, “The only way to move forward is with direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”” Gershon Baskin, (who negotiated IDF soldier Gilad Shalit release) : WHERE IS THE ISRAELI PARTNER FOR PEACE?
    After watching the Ilana Dayan interview with Abu Mazen I can say that I personally sent messages to Netanyahu from Abu Mazen several times over the past 3 years, as did others, proposing direct negotiations. Netanyahu turned down every single request. Abu Mazen, through me, invited several other senior Israeli politicians to meet with him, even before the last 6 months of violence, and they refused. Abu Mazen ask me to invite several senior Likud figures to meet with him and Netanyahu vetoed those meetings. Abu Mazen asked me to pass an invitation from hi to Aryeh Deri, who for months I have been trying to respond positively to that invitation, and Deri never even bothered to respond – even after he had me speak to his senior advisor, Barak Seri – he didn’t even have the courtesy to respond. I personally arranged for Buji Herzog to meet with Abu Mazen, before the elections and after the elections. I proposed to Herzog that they hold a joint press conference and speak about how they could reach an agreement. Abbas agreed and said that if Herzog is ready, he is also ready. Herzog refused. In his meeting, after elections he told Abu Mazen that he was thinking about joining the coalition. Where is the Israeli partner for peace?
    Gershon Baskin 1.4.2016

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