Palestinians' Abbas denounces US peace proposal as gift to Israel

Reuters , Tuesday 11 Feb 2020

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds a map while speaking during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, U.S., February 11, 2020. REUTERS

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, appearing before the United Nations Security Council, angrily rejected US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace proposal on Tuesday as a gift to Israel and unacceptable to Palestinians.

Waving a copy of a map that the US plan envisions for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, Abbas said the state carved out for Palestinians looks like a fragmented "Swiss cheese."

His appearance came as a draft UN Security Council resolution is being circulated that would condemn an Israeli plan to annex its settlements in the West Bank, in what would amount to a rebuke of the Trump plan.

The draft text, circulated to council members by Tunisia and Indonesia, would face a certain US veto, but nonetheless reflected some members' dim view of the peace plan that Trump rolled out two weeks ago with great fanfare.

Abbas called on Trump to disavow the plan and seek a return to negotiations based on existing UN resolutions that call for a two-state solution based on pre-1967 border lines.He urged the Security Council to hold an international conference to implement a settlement.

"The US cannot be the sole mediator," he said.

Suggesting violent protests could break out, Abbas said that "the situation could implode at any moment. ... We need hope. Please do not take this hope away from us." Later he said Palestinians would not "resort to terrorism."

Trump’s plan, the product of three years' effort by senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, would recognize Israel’s authority over West Bank settlements and would require the Palestinians to meet a difficult series of conditions to be allowed to have a state, with its capital in a West Bank village east of Jerusalem.

Released on Jan. 28, the plan drew immediate Palestinian condemnation for imposing strict conditions and agreeing to let Israel maintain control of long-contested West Bank settlements.

Although Trump's stated aim was to end decades of conflict, the plan he advanced favored Israel, underscored by the absence of Palestinians from Trump's White House announcement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side.

While the Palestinians have rejected the plan, a number of Arab governments have said it represents a starting point for a renewal of long-stalled negotiations.

Abbas said the deal is not an international partnership but rather a proposal from one state supported by another state to be imposed on Palestinians.

"This is the state that they will give us," said Abbas. "It's like a Swiss cheese, really. Who among you will accept a similar state and similar conditions?"

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, accused Abbas of being unrealistic.

"President Abbas refused to be pragmatic. He refuses to negotiate. He is not interested in finding a realistic solution to the conflict," Danon told the Security Council. 

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