United Nations - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel's United Nations ambassador both said they were willing to negotiate on a plan for Middle East peace, but Abbas roundly rejected the.
Israel's Ambassador Danny Danon and Abbas both called for peace and negotiations at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, but Danon accused Abbas of being "not serious" about either.
Israel has welcomed Mr. Trump's "vision" for Mideast peace, but the Palestinian Authority rejected it even before its official unveiling as being biased in favor of the Israelis.
Israel and the U.S. have called for the Palestinians to return to direct negotiations, saying the Trump administration's plan was "open to negotiations." Danon offered Abbas the prospect of direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem or Ramallah.
"President Abbas refuses to be pragmatic. He refuses to negotiate. He is not interested in finding a realistic solution to the conflict," Danon said to the 15-nation Security Council Tuesday.
"We are ready to start negotiations," Abbas told the council, but he said the Palestinian Authority would only do so under the auspices of the so-called U.N. Quartet. That group, which includes the Palestinians, the U.N., the European Union, Russia and the U.S., previously spear-headed Mideast peace negotiations, but that dialogue has been stalled for years, as the Trump administration worked on its own plan.
Holding up maps of the Palestinian state envisioned by the White House plan, Abbas ridiculed the proposal.
"This is the state they will give us," he said. "It's like Swiss cheese." Critics point out that Mr. Trump's plan would give Israel most of what it has long sought, and carve a future Palestinian state into separate chunks surrounded by Israeli territory.
"The U.S. cannot be the sole mediator," Abbas said Tuesday, hinting that the opposition building to the U.S. proposal in the Palestinian territories could boil up into violence. There have already been scattered clashes since the Trump plan was unveiled.
"The situation could implode at any moment," Abbas said. "We need hope. Please do not take this hope away from us."
Opening the Tuesday Security Council meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned "tensions and risks in the Gulf have risen to troubling levels."
Nikolay Mladenov, the U.N.'s Special Coordinator for the Middle East, told diplomats the U.S. plan had been formally rejected by the Palestinian government, the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft acknowledged that "emotions are running high" at the council meeting, but said "peaceful coexistence is not out of reach."
She addressed the Palestinian president directly: "President Abbas, as President Trump stated, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries will, we will be there."
Craft referred to the $50 billion package of economic aid for the Palestinians that comes with the White House's plan as "the foundations for widespread economic opportunity," saying Mr. Trump was offering "more than a path to Palestinian independence - it is a blueprint for the construction of a flourishing Palestinian state."
But the Security Council remains divided. A resolution drafted by the Palestinians to formally reject the White House plan was not tabled Tuesday due to a lack of support, but five European nations – France, Estonia, Germany, Belgium and Poland – stood before reporters before the meeting to call for a revival of the political process in support of U.N. Security Council resolutions, which is a rejection of the U.S. plan's framework.
Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert planned to present an "alternative" plan at a news conference later Tuesday. That plan has already been dismissed by both White House adviser Jared Kushner, at the U.N. last week, and the Israeli ambassador.
"This is a time for dialogue, for reconciliation, for reason. I urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to demonstrate the necessary will required to advance the goal of a just and lasting peace, which the international community must support," the U.N. chief pleaded with the council on Tuesday.
"Let us negotiate," Danon said to Abbas.
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