Abbas to make rare address to UN Security Council
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Abbas to make rare address to UN Security Council

Top UN body should hear the Palestinian leader after the US ambassador accused him of lacking courage for peace, council president says

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 20, 2017 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 20, 2017 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas will deliver a rare address to the UN Security Council this month, the council president said Thursday, amid strained relations with the US administration.

Abbas’s address on February 20 will come a few weeks after US Ambassador Nikki Haley strongly criticized him during a council meeting and said he lacked the courage needed for a peace.

Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi, who holds the council presidency for February, told reporters that it was “important” for the top UN body to “listen to the president himself” during the Middle East debate.

US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel infuriated the Palestinians, who have called on the US to be stripped of its mediation role in the peace process.

Tensions have also flared over the US decision to cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement that Abbas’s address to the council would further damage prospects for direct peace talks with Israel.

“After disseminating anti-Semitic messages in recent speeches, Mahmud Abbas is now seeking to put an end to any possibility of negotiations with Israel,” said Danon.

“By continuing to act against the United States and seeking unilateral action against Israel, Abbas is completely misreading today’s reality and harming the prospects for a better future for his people,” he added.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East on December 18, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP Photo/Kena Betancur)

At a council meeting last week, Haley said Abbas had “insulted” Trump and said, “We will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace.”

She was referring to a speech Abbas gave on January 14 to the Palestinian leadership in which Abbas reportedly mocked Trump and thundered “Damn your Money!” in response to US threats to cut off funding.

The council has also invited former US president Jimmy Carter, who signed the 1978 Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt, to address an informal meeting on Palestine on January 22.

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