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Abbas at UN says Israeli occupation is ruining climate

AFP , Saturday 23 Apr 2016
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signs the Paris Agreement on climate change, Friday, April 22, 2016 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo)

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told world leaders at a UN ceremony Friday that the Israeli occupation authorities must stop "destroying" the climate in the Palestinian territories.

"The Israeli occupation is destroying the climate in Palestine and the Israeli settlements are destroying nature in Palestine," Abbas told the gathering of 175 countries signing a landmark climate deal.

"Please help us in putting an end to occupation and to putting an end to settlements," said Abbas after signing the agreement.

Palestine was among a group of 15 countries and parties that immediately presented their already-completed ratification of the accord aimed at tackling global warming.

Abbas signed on behalf of the observer state of Palestine, a status the Palestinians obtained in 2012 at the United Nations and which allows them to join international conventions and agreements.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, hit back, accusing Abbas of using the UN stage to rail against his country.

"This climate summit is supposed to be a demonstration of global unity for the sake of the future of our planet. Unfortunately, president Abbas chose to exploit this international stage to mislead the international community," he said.

The sharp exchange at the United Nations comes as France is pushing for an international conference to re-launch peace talks later this year.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said Thursday that a push for a UN resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement expansion will be put on hold to focus instead on the French initiative.

The draft resolution was circulated to Arab countries and to some members of the Security Council earlier this month as part of a drive for UN action in support of the two-state solution.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been frozen since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

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