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February 11, 2020 1:26 pm

At UN, Abbas Rails Against Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’; Israeli Envoy Danon Says Peace Not Possible With PA Leader

avatar by Algemeiner Staff and Agencies

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas holds a map while speaking during a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, Feb. 11, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Shannon Stapleton.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas — appearing before the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday — angrily denounced US President Donald Trump’s recently-unveiled Middle East peace proposal as a gift to Israel and unacceptable to Palestinians.

Waving a copy of a map that the Trump plan, Abbas said the state envisioned for the Palestinians looked like a fragmented “Swiss cheese.”

In a potential rebuke to the US initiative, a draft UN Security Council resolution being circulated to council members by Tunisia and Indonesia would condemn an Israeli plan to annex its settlements in the West Bank.

If put to a vote, the text would face a certain US veto but nonetheless reflected some members’ dim view of the plan that Trump rolled out two weeks ago with great fanfare.

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Released on Jan. 28, Trump’s plan would recognize Israel’s authority over its West Bank settlements and require Palestinians meet a difficult series of conditions for a state, with its capital in a West Bank village east of Jerusalem.

“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?”

Speaking at an election rally in Bat Yam on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the criticism and hinted at the possibility that Arab states might entertain the Trump plan even if Palestinians do not.

“This is not Swiss cheese. This is the best plan that exists for the Middle East — for the Middle East — and for the State of Israel and for the Palestinians, too,” he said, adding that the plan “recognizes reality and the rights of the people of Israel, both of which you [Abbas] constantly refuse to recognize.”

Abbas urged 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 rejected traditional US mediation in resolving the conflict and called for an international conference.

“The US cannot be the sole mediator,” he said.

Suggesting violent protests could break out, Abbas said “the situation could implode at any moment. … We need hope. Please do not take this hope away from us.” He later said Palestinians would not “resort to terrorism.”

While Arab League foreign ministers on Feb. 1 rejected the plan, three Gulf Arab states — Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — were represented at its White House announcement event, suggesting that they may be prioritizing ties with the US and a shared hostility toward Iran over traditional Arab alliances.

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.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, accused Abbas of being unrealistic and said peace was not possible while he remained in power.

“If President Abbas was serious about negotiating, he wouldn’t be here in New York, he would be in Jerusalem,” Danon said. “Complaining instead of leading, that is Abbas’ way.”

“Progress toward peace will not be made so long as President Abbas remains in his position,” the Israeli diplomat asserted. “Only when he steps down, can Israel and the Palestinians move forward. A leader who choses rejectionism, incitement and glorification of terror can never be a real partner for peace.”

“Peace is a core aspect of our belief, of the Jewish way of life. We thank President Trump and his team for their dedication to the cause of peace,” Danon concluded.

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said, “This plan is not a ‘take it or leave it.’ It is not a ‘my way or the highway.’ It is not set in stone. Rather, it is an opening offer. It is the beginning of a conversation — not the end of one.”

“The United States stands willing to support all efforts to begin this conversation, and moving forward, we hope all parties will keep an open mind, listen, and engage,” she continued. “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, peace that we all seek.”

“My fervent hope is that after today’s rhetoric clears, Palestinian leaders will see this plan for the opportunity it is, roll up their sleeves, and seize this chance to sit down with the leaders of Israel to begin a new conversation,” Craft stated.

A Feb. 5-8 poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 94% of Palestinians reject the Trump plan, which the US president has called the “Deal of the Century.”

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