UNITED NATIONS – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday and, as expected, again rejected the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan unveiled two weeks ago at the White House, saying the U.S. cannot be the sole mediator in the peace process.
While Abbas clearly had hoped for a vote by the council that would have condemned the plan, his 50-minute speech set about attacking it from the start.
Abbas told the council he was there on behalf of 13 million Palestinians. “I have come to you today ladies and gentlemen to reaffirm the Palestinian position that rejects the Israeli-American proposal.”
Negotiations over a draft Security Council resolution fell apart as not enough members could agree on it; the council put a vote on hold while negotiations continued. This led a senior administration official to tell Fox News that the council “demonstrated that the old way of doing things is over. For the first time on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the council was willing to think outside the conventional box, and not reflexively fall back on the calcified Palestinian position, which has only allowed the failed status quo to continue.”
The official continued: “Our plan is the start of a process, not the end. We hope the Palestinians will take advantage of the opportunity to move the ball forward.”
Abbas criticized President Trump for turning his back on a dialogue they started in 2017. He said he was surprised by some of Trump’s actions afterward, including the 2018 closure of the PLO office in Washington, and the president’s plan to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Palestinian leader complained that the U.S. had stopped sending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, asking aloud, “I don’t know who gave him this unacceptable advice?”
Abbas held up letters and thanked the dozens of congressional Democrats who rejected Trump’s Mideast peace plan. He also said the only way he would accept the U.S.’ participation would be within the boundaries of the “Quartet” -- which was set up in 2002 and also included Russia, the European Union and the U.N.
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon fired back at Abbas, saying that for peace to happen, the Palestinian president needed to go. “Progress toward peace will not be made so long as President Abbas remains in his position. Only when he steps down can Israel and the Palestinians move forward. A leader who chooses rejectionism, incitement and glorification of terror can never be a real partner for peace.”
Danon continued, “Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. President Trump’s plan takes a sane approach to solving this conflict. It understands that we have to try something different. Maybe it will work this time.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft quoted Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the President Trump. “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.”
Craft also said she was optimistic that members of the council would give the U.S. approach “a fair hearing, rather than revert to the old habits that have not produced, and cannot produce, peace that we all seek.”
Following the council meeting, Abbas joined former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a joint appearance.
Olmert may have surprised Abbas when he said the Trump plan included an important commitment to a two-state solution, saying it could act as a starting point. Abbas did not take reporters’ questions.