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Time to ditch US as peace broker: Abbas

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UNITED NATIONS, 11 FEBRUARY 2020 — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the Trump administration’s plan for Middle East peace on Tuesday and urged the United Nations Security Council to help chart a new course for cutting a deal with his Israeli neighbours.

Addressing diplomats in New York, Abbas proposed an “international mechanism” to replace the Americans as a sole, honest broker, after Washington on January 28 unveiled a peace plan that was tipped heavily in Israel’s favor.

Still, the Palestinians struggled to get enough support in the 15-nation chamber to call for a vote on a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement building, even as Israel is reportedly devising maps with the US on how much land in the West Bank they can annex.

In his 36-minute address, Abbas called for the expansion of the Middle East Quartet — a grouping of the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia that was in the past a player in peace talks but has been sidelined in recent years.

“I call on the international Quartet and I call on the members of the UN Security Council to hold an international conference for peace,” Abbas said in New York.

“Any other country can join the Quartet … to be honest, the US alone cannot be the sole mediator. Among the Quartet, you are more than welcome. However, as the sole mediator, we will not accept. We have tried this now and honestly we cannot accept it again.”

Abbas blasted a US peace plan that left Palestinians with a “Swiss cheese” territory of “inland islands”, saying that some 13 million Palestinians were calling on the international community for a “just peace, that is all”.

The Palestinian leader, also known as Abu Mazen, held up letters and documents in which, he said, 300 former Israeli military officiers, 107 US lawmakers and 12 senators has rejected a deal that would effectively “put an end” to Palestinian hopes of statehood.

Abbas was set to hold a press conference later Tuesday with Ehud Olmert, a former Israeli Prime Minister, which was expected to underscore Israel’s political drift rightward in recent years and a government that is unwilling to make concessions to the Palestinians.

In a Haaretz article Tuesday, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat fleshed out Palestinian plans, outlining an “umbrella group of a number of peace-loving countries to facilitate a meaningful peace process” that is based on past UN resolutions, not the new US proposal.

“Palestine is offering the world a serious proposal to achieve a just and lasting peace,” wrote  Erekat. “We are calling upon the international community to make sure that a rules-based world order, and third party responsibility, is the only way forward for everyone.”

Washington’s UN envoy Kelly Craft said the US proposal was not a “take it or leave it” offer to the Palestinians, but was rather the “beginning of a conversation” that offered a way to break a decades-long impasse in negotiations.

“I’m optimistic all council members will give this approach a fair hearing rather than revert to the old habits that have not produced and cannot produce the peace that we all seek,” Craft told diplomats.

Speaking with reporters, Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon said the Palestinians were more interested in delivering fiery speeches in New York than engaging in serious peace talks in either Washington or Jerusalem.

“Abbas is well versed in the art of doublespeak. He comes here to the UN, he pretends to be committed to peace, but he remains committed to incitement back home. Before he left, Abbas, encouraged Palestinians to riot and engage in violence against Israelis,” said Danon.

Diplomats had been expected to vote on a draft resolution, which was co-sponsored by council members Indonesia and Tunisia and backed by the Palestinians, that would have declared the US plan in violation of international law.

After lengthy negotiations and concerns from the US and other council members, the Palestinians reportedly decided against putting the draft document up for a vote, with Erekat tweeting on Monday that negotiations were still underway.

Nikolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy, warned that a “possible annexation of territory in the West Bank or similar moves, would have a devastating impact on the prospect for a two-state solution” and would “close the door to negotiations”.

Against a backdrop of violence and Palestinian deaths in the West Bank, Mladenov said it was “hard to envision a comprehensive agreement” right now, but that it was “time to hear proposals on how to move the process” back to a “mutually agreed mediation framework”.

US President Donald Trump on January 28 released a long-awaited plan that envisions a disjointed, demilitarized Palestinian state, subject to Israeli control over its security, with tracts of desert in return for arable land on which Israeli settlers now live.

The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas captured by Israel in a 1967 war — for an independent state and the removal of many of the estimated 700,000 Israeli settlers who built homes on those areas.

But under terms of the “peace vision” that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner worked on for some three years, all Israeli settlers would remain in place, and Israel would retain sovereignty over these settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.

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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11 Responses

  1. eljay on February 11, 2020, 12:55 pm

    … In a Haaretz article Tuesday, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat fleshed out Palestinian plans …

    Excerpt from Haaretz:

    … Our vision of peace is based on ending Israel’s occupation, towards the achievement of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is the historic concession for peace we made in 1988, accepting Israel’s control over 78 percent of historic Palestine.

    We call for a free Palestine that coexists in peace, security and prosperity with the rest of the region. All permanent status issues should be resolved in a just manner that honors international law and relevant UN resolutions. The Arab Peace Initiative will be the entry point for further diplomatic and trade relations between the various parties.

    Ensuring that the international community is aware of what both Israel and the Trump administration are doing is not enough. Saving the prospects for peace requires engagement, ending Israel’s impunity, preventing the possibility of annexation and providing the conditions for meaningful talks based on the internationally agreed-upon terms of reference for the Middle East Peace Process.

    Our proposal includes the establishment of an umbrella group of a number of peace-loving countries to facilitate a meaningful peace process. A group that works to implement international law, rather than to facilitate an annexation process made to violate it. …

    Not sure if Abbas bothered to include any of these details during his speechifying but if he didn’t he should have.

    … Speaking with reporters, Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon said … “Abbas is well versed in the art of doublespeak. …

    …says the Zionist. Funny stuff!  :-D

    • Maghlawatan on February 12, 2020, 2:04 am

      Zionists project onto others what they are themselves.
      The ideology is insane.

    • JWalters on February 12, 2020, 7:07 pm

      The Palestinians could propose the Balfour Declaration as a compromise position. It would include

      “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, … it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

      This would include rolling back the illegal Zionist invasion, and all the Zionists’ other blatant violations of the Balfour conditions, and establishing a non-religious democracy with equal rights for all citizens, as promised to the people of Palestine by the British.

  2. Ossinev on February 11, 2020, 1:29 pm

    “In a Haaretz article Tuesday, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat fleshed out Palestinian plans …”

    Yet more peaceing into the wind.

  3. Talkback on February 11, 2020, 2:49 pm

    “78 percent of historic Palestine”

    Is unfortunately not enough to turn Palestine into a Judenstaat which has been the Zionism’s goal for 125 years.

  4. Misterioso on February 11, 2020, 3:12 pm

    A must read;

    https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/174190

    “Israel as Palestine: One State is Not the Solution, It’s Reality”

    By Ian S. Lustick, the Bess W. Heyman Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Reality to One-State Solution (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)

    Feb. 2/20, History News Network

    “In my years as a graduate student at Berkeley in the early 1970s I was a member of a group of idealistic and eccentric Jewish students known as the Radical Jewish Union. We were directly involved in struggles to save Soviet Jewry, resist the draft, convince Jewish welfare federations to direct more funds to Jewish education, revive Jewish cultural and artistic traditions, fight anti-Semitism, and encourage Israel to move in progressive directions.

    “In 1972 I wrote an article in the group’s newspaper, The Jewish Radical, announcing formation of a petition campaign to be called ‘Yaish Breira’ (in Hebrew, ‘There is an alternative.’) We published and energetically distributed a petition calling on the Israeli government to stop settling Jews in the West Bank and accept the establishment of a non-belligerent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In my article I argued that if settlement of the West Bank continued political forces would arise in Israel that would make future withdrawal impossible, thereby ‘locking the Jewish state in a political dungeon from which it would never escape.’ At that time there were fewer than 2000 West Bank settlers outside of expanded East Jerusalem. Now there are nearly 400,000. The half dozen activists who were the core of Yaish Breira (most of whom moved to Israel, and are still living there), were liberal Zionists. We were desperate to protect a democratic Israel from irredentist expansion that would mean repression, discrimination, and the prevention of Palestinian self-determination.

    “This was the still avoidable catastrophe that obsessed us and drove us to reach out to Jewish activists all over the world. Committed to keeping the ‘dirty laundry’ of conflict among Jews from being seen by the gentiles, we wrote and spoke only in Jewish publications and in Jewish events. At that time there was very little awareness of the phenomenon of Jewish settlement of the West Bank and the immense implications of that settlement for the options Israelis and Palestinians would have in the future. Even figures who would eventually become leaders of the peace movement, such as Colonel Morele Bar-On and Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, criticized our efforts. It was ridiculous, they claimed, to imagine that settlements would ever amount to anything of political significance.

    “We were regularly harassed and insulted as ‘self-hating Jews,’ ‘anti-Semites,’ and even ‘Nazis.’ I was even fired from my part-time job as a Hebrew-school teacher. Nevertheless, we collected over 400 signatures from Jewish activists in fourteen countries. In 1973 we submitted our petition to the Golda Meir government, which completely ignored us.

    “West Bank Palestinians, however, took notice. Shortly before the 1973 war erupted, the front page of one Arabic newspaper in Jerusalem—Sout al-Jamaheir– featured a long article about our petition with the excited headline that there were actually Jews who opposed settlements in the West Bank and favored establishment of a Palestinian state.

    “Times change and so do majority opinions. After decades of delay and continued settlement activity, most Israelis did accept our argument that West Bank settlements posed a dire threat to the only negotiated solution to the conflict–a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, however, no government in Israel acted decisively enough or soon enough to make that vision a reality. For almost a decade now, there has been no real possibility of achieving it, even though it remains convenient for Americans, Israelis, and some Palestinians to pretend otherwise. It is for saying that I no longer support the two-state solution, that I am now denounced as an anti-Semite and self-hating Jew.

    “It used to be that Israel, after 1967, was a state within the boundaries established after the 1948 war, temporarily ‘occupying’ other territories, not in the state, that could have been a Palestinian state. No more. One out of eleven Jewish Israelis live in the territories captured in 1967 that Israel calls ‘Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem.’ There are no Israeli Jews living in the Gaza Strip, but the two million inhabitants of that ghettoized region are for all intents and purposes also ruled by the policies and power of Israeli governments. The state of Israel collects taxes from Gazans, regulates their trade, controls entry and exit, and determines whose homes and whose lives will or will not be protected from destruction (the fundamental function of a state). Even official Israeli maps depict no international borders separating ‘Israel’ from Palestinian enclaves or from the Gaza Strip. If Israel leaves much for Hamas to do in Gaza, and something for the Palestinian Authority to do in the West Bank, so too do Palestinian organizations operate in Israeli prison yards without thereby removing them from the state of Israel.

    “The two-state solution is no longer a viable political objective or a practical, useful plan for thinking about the problem. Officially, however, it is still honored, even by those who privately know the truth. It is, in effect, a ‘Dead Solution Walking.’ But because one state controls the entire territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River does not mean we have witnessed the coming of the one-state solution. What we have is a one-state reality.

    “The future, and with it prospects for peace and a better set of problems than those afflicting Jews and Palestinians today, will not be determined by renewed diplomacy or negotiations. The diplomatic merry-go-round may continue to turn, but as all merry-go-rounds, its purpose is simply to keep turning, not to go anywhere. Instead the future will be determined by long struggles to change the one state, Israel, that has united the entire country. This will mean what it did for freed black slaves in the Unites States, for non-whites in apartheid South Africa, for Irish Catholics in nineteenth century Britain, and for women in all western industrialized countries: generations of conflict and shifting alliances that transform limited democracies by incorporating formerly excluded populations thereby ending, or at least greatly reducing, discrimination and inequality. In this way, eventually, all those whose lives are subject to the power of the Israeli state, Jews in the Galilee, Arabs in Gaza, Jews in the West Bank, and Arabs in Haifa, will have equal rights and equal representation in the government that governs them.

    “In other words, the struggle for peace between Israel and the Palestinians has been replaced by struggles, likely to take generations, for the equality of Jews and Arabs within the state now known as Israel.”

  5. Mayhem on February 11, 2020, 11:46 pm

    The PA couldn’t get a motion before their mates at the UNSC to vote against the Trump plan.
    Time to ditch Abbas (Mr. Rejectionist) as leader of the Palestinian Authority. He hasn’t got a constructive bone in his body.

    • Talkback on February 12, 2020, 8:35 am

      Mayhem: “The PA couldn’t get a motion before their mates at the UNSC to vote against the Trump plan.”

      They allready knew that, but they need to do everything to say that they tried everything, before they abandon the two state solution.

      Mayhem: “He hasn’t got a constructive bone in his body.”

      What would you consider to be constructive from him? Subjugating to Jewish Apartheid?

    • Misterioso on February 12, 2020, 10:45 am

      @Mayhem

      The “Trump plan” is toast.

    • Talkback on February 14, 2020, 6:29 am

      @ Mayhem

      I watched the whole Security Council session on youtube.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_e5wRKxwaM

      It doesn’t surprise me that you just repeat the pathetic “rejectionist” accusations of Comical Danny. Unfortunately for him Abbas allready debunked these accusation even before Comical Danny even opend his foul mouth.

      So we have Abbas and the rest of the World reaffirming a two state solution based on 1967 lines, international law and Security Council resolutions (mutually agreed land swaps not excluded) .

      Then we have Comical Danny on the other side who was only engaged in character assasinating Abbas and claimed that there will be no peace until the Palestinans get rid of Abbas.

      And then we have the US who are just simply trying to change the base of negotiations away from international consensus towards Israel’s Apartheid wishlist and violations of international law. and human rights. Trump is just saying to the Palestinins: Sorry, but the cards you are holding are not longer valuable, because I changed the trump card in Israel’s favor.

  6. James Canning on February 12, 2020, 6:35 pm

    I remember George W. Bush referring to Swiss cheese, when he was discussing the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Condoleezza Rice’s incompetence contributed to the expansion of the illegal colonies of Jews in the occupied West Bank.

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