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Palestinians mount peace plan fightback at UN

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Palestinian officials went on the offensive at the United Nations this week, seeking to rally opposition to United States President Donald Trump after he released a proposal for Middle East peace that favors Israelis over Palestinians.

Palestine’s U.N. ambassador Riyad Mansour derided Trump’s plan during a media appearance, held meetings with U.N. bigwigs and revealed plans for a Security Council address by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and a new, draft resolution for the 15-nation body.

Still, U.N. officials and diplomats were careful to not openly discuss the White House initiative. Analysts told Mondoweiss that the Palestinians could end up with little more than platitudes and would struggle to best Israel’s powerful ally, the U.S., which can veto key U.N. decisions.

Addressing reporters for nearly 30 minutes in Arabic and English on Wednesday, Mansour bashed a plan that, he said, gave Israel the “upper hand” and featured “deceiving” language that would dash Palestinian hopes of one day having their own sovereign nation.

“It is a recipe for the destruction of the national rights of the Palestinian people, and it will not fly,” said Mansour, standing beside Moncef Baati, the U.N. ambassador for Tunisia, which holds the Arab bloc’s rotating, two-year seat on the Security Council.

“It is not acceptable, and those who think of the Palestinian people would evaporate: they will not. Those who think that a Palestinian people will pack up and leave: they will not.”

Mansour offered few details about the planned Security Council resolution, which is still being drafted. He called for the “strongest possible” language and “strong, large opposition to this Trump plan” at Abbas’ appearance in New York in the first half of February.

Abbas seeks support from Arab foreign ministers at a meeting in Cairo on Saturday, as well as from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the European Union, the African Union and the so-called NAM group of 120 developing countries, said Mansour.

He called for a “unified position of the entire international community” against a long-awaited plan that Trump unveiled in Washington on Tuesday, standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but with no Palestinians attending.

To this end, Mansour met on Thursday with Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, a Nigerian diplomat who is president of the UN’s 193-nation General Assembly — another possible route through which the Palestinians could seek a resolution that carries a seal of international approval.

After the sit-down, Muhammad-Bande tweeted that the UN is “guided by” its members’ decisions, by which a “two-state solution is envisaged as the way forward with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security according to international law”.

Other UN officials made similar references to established principles of Israeli-Palestinian bargaining, such as the goal of a two-state solution along the borders that existed before a 1967 war, yet appeared unwilling to address Trump’s plan directly.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres canceled a scheduled press briefing at short notice on Tuesday, in what was widely viewed as an effort to dodge an hour-long grilling by journalists on the intricate details of Trump’s plan.

His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, was repeatedly asked about the proposal at daily press briefings throughout the week, but was never drawn into commenting on the peace initiative from the U.N.’s biggest donor.

“Our position last week, last month and last year and today remains the same,” said Dujarric. “We have nothing more to add to that.”

According to Jonathan Cristol, an expert on the Middle East at Adelphi University, the Palestinians are turning to the UN absent any better alternatives, given the hostility of the Trump administration and Netanyahu.

“The Trump-Kushner deal of the century is not a deal at all — it is an ultimatum,” said Cristol, using a moniker for a plan that was devised by the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Palestinian officials could likely muster enough votes for a supportive General Assembly resolution, but that would be non-binding, said Cristol. Security Council resolutions carry more weight, but require nine votes in favor and no vetoes by permanent members the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, or France to be adopted.

“For real impact, the Palestinian Authority needs a Security Council resolution and, it is an absolute certainty that the U.S. will veto anything they put forward,” Cristol told Mondoweiss.

“However, the reverse is also true. If the U.S. proposes a council resolution in support of this plan, it would definitely be vetoed by China and Russia, probably France, and possibly the U.K. as well.”

James Reinl

James Reinl is a journalist, editor and current affairs analyst. He has reported from more than 35 countries and won awards for covering wars in Sri Lanka, Congo and Somalia, Haiti’s earthquake and human rights abuses in Iran. His work has appeared on PRI's The World, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Fox News, France 24, CBC, CBS News, dpa, RTÉ, The Times, The National, Monocle and APTN.

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13 Responses

  1. eljay on January 31, 2020, 10:40 am

    Why are the Palestinians wasting their time appealing to the seemingly-incompetent U.N.? It’s been suggested that the Palestinians simply need to “outsmart” Trump in order to realize justice, accountability and equality in I-P.

    One might argue that Trump is a Zionist, fully bought and paid for, and that Zionists and Israel have vigorously stroked his ego and fattened his wallet and, in return, he has handsomely rewarded their greed and desires. What, one might ask, can the Palestinians possibly do to turn him away from all that?

    Apparently all they have to do is:
    – restate things he has said;
    – ask for clarifications;
    – not say ‘no’; and
    – NEGOTIATE* with him.
    _____________________
    (*It’s not exactly clear what they’re supposed to negotiate with, since they don’t have the benjamins, the political influence, military strength, Jerusalem (or much territory at all) or control of exploitable natural resources.)

    • Talkback on January 31, 2020, 1:29 pm

      eljay: “Why are the Palestinians wasting their time appealing to the seemingly-incompetent U.N.?”

      First of all, time is working in their favor, not in Israels. Secondly they are trying anything so that nobody can accuse them that they didn’t try everything. The actually must prove that the UN and maybe even the ICC or its effectiveness fails them, before they can go into an (even violent) Anti-Apartheid struggle.

      • eljay on January 31, 2020, 2:35 pm

        || Talkback: … First of all, time is working in their favor, not in Israels. … ||

        So far – to my eyes, at least – it seems that time has been quite favourable to Israel while the U.N. has had both thumbs up its ass.

        || … Secondly they are trying anything … ||

        But they haven’t yet tried to “outsmart” Trump.

      • Talkback on January 31, 2020, 5:35 pm

        eljay: “So far – to my eyes, at least – it seems that time has been quite favourable to Israel while the U.N. has had both thumbs up its ass.”

        Because the Palestinans are still clinging to the two state solution and are not fighting Apartheid.

  2. Misterioso on January 31, 2020, 10:55 am

    It’s long since time that “Israel” was booted out of the UN or at least had its membership suspended (as happened to apartheid South Africa) for its ongoing and accelerating violations of the UN Charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, binding on all UN member states. Of course, “Israel’s” protector, the U.S., especially under Trump, is now in the same boat. It’s gonna’ be a wild ride!!

  3. rensanceman on January 31, 2020, 12:15 pm

    Since 2013 Israel has been condemned over 45 times by the U.N for its actions that run afoul of the U.N Charter ( and several more since then). It has ignored them all. The Talmud and Torah are not to be superseded by these man made laws and rules. We must still await that pivot point when the weight of public disgust will overcome the tight control the Zionist movement has over the world and move to correct this historical and criminal aberration.

    • Misterioso on January 31, 2020, 1:01 pm

      @rensanceman

      In the not so long run, “Israel” will pay heavily for the monstrous crimes it has comitted against the essentially defenseless indigenous Palestinians and other Arabs.

    • jon s on January 31, 2020, 3:40 pm

      The Zionist movement controls the world. Wow.

      And let’s throw in the Torah and Talmud!

      • Mooser on January 31, 2020, 4:50 pm

        Yup, you’ll get all that and much more. Got a plan to deal with it, besides whining?

      • wondering jew on January 31, 2020, 8:07 pm

        Some people participate here on the presumption that the mondoweiss rules against Jew hatred are real even to the point that a little nudge here and there might result in a moderator that acted upon the so called rules. of course those who ignore the rules (if not the jew hatred rules then other rules) on a daily basis will be tempted to taunt.

  4. just on January 31, 2020, 5:08 pm

    “To this end, Mansour met on Thursday with Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, a Nigerian diplomat who is president of the UN’s 193-nation General Assembly — another possible route through which the Palestinians could seek a resolution that carries a seal of international approval.”

    I hope that this Nigerian diplomat is aware of this:

    “The Trump administration is expanding the reach of its controversial travel ban to six additional countries.

    According to multiple reports, the United States is planning to stop issuing visas that offer a path to residency to nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, Myanmar and Tanzania. …”

    more @ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/31/travel-ban-trump-countries-announcement

    ~and~

    “U.S. Envoy Warns Palestinians Against Voicing Opposition to Trump Peace Plan at UN
    Ambassador Kelly Craft says bringing ‘displeasure’ over plan to United Nations would only ‘repeat the failed pattern of the last seven decades …'”

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/u-s-envoy-warns-palestinians-against-voicing-opposition-to-trump-peace-plan-at-un-1.8475139?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  5. Vera Gottlieb on February 1, 2020, 11:38 am

    Still believing the UN is capable of doing anything??? How naive.

  6. Ossinev on February 1, 2020, 1:18 pm

    The Pointless Authority has been chasing its own tail since Oslo. There is only one option left on the table and that is a straightforward handing over of the keys and the claim by all resident Palestinians for equal rights as citizens in a sovereign state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. With the Trump Piss plan it is now clearer than it has ever been that the Israelis will never agree to anything remotely resembling a sovereign state for the Palestinians. It formalises the existing “Bantustanisation” of the native Palestinian people and quite clearly will rapidly increase this process with the outright annexation of the illegal settlements in particular the Jordan Valley.

    To put it simply the Palestinians have the single most powerful card to play in this and the only reason that it is not being played is the desperation of the Abbas,Erekat et al to hold on to their status ,income and lifestyle by totally useless appeals to the UN etc and the pretense which they are trying to maintain that somehow,sometime their “leadership” will bring about a sovereign state. Not a hope in hell.

    Hopefully a groundswell of younger generation Palestinians will quickly realise with this latest farcical “plan” the Israelis have finally overstepped the mark and that their arrogance has terminally led them into Apartheid territory with no going back and with the consequences as with Afrikaner South Africa.

    All they need to do is to organise and get marching. As with Africaner Apartheid but in a much reduced time scale the Israeli version will generate a huge amount of international opprobium support and the richly deserved misery which it will heap on Zionist Israelis will be some compensation for the 72 years of brutality which they have inflicted on the native Palestinian people.

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