Greenblatt: Time for new approach; Malki: We won't surrender

Greenblatt bashes Security Council, urges it to back Trump peace plan

Trump envoy says focus on settlements a ‘farce’; Palestinian foreign minister tells UN body that Washington’s proposal cannot count as a peace effort

US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, arrives at a news conference about a water-sharing agreement between Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in Jerusalem, July 13, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Ronen Zvulun)
US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, arrives at a news conference about a water-sharing agreement between Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in Jerusalem, July 13, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Ronen Zvulun)

UNITED NATIONS — US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy on Thursday berated the UN Security Council for “rehashing tired talking points” criticizing Israel and said an upcoming US peace plan would provide a fresh approach.

Jason Greenblatt told a council meeting that the imminent proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace “will be realistic and implementable,” describing it as “the right package of compromises for both sides.”

“It is time for a new approach,” said Greenblatt, who is working with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement that are to be unveiled in June.

Addressing the council, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki again voiced opposition to the US plan, which is expected to include economic development as a key component.

“This is not a peace plan but rather conditions for surrender and there is no amount of money that can make it acceptable,” said Malki.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki addresses the General Assembly prior to a vote on December 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The Palestinians cut off contacts with the Trump administration after it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 and have accused the United States of taking a strongly pro-Israel stance.

“We cannot afford not to engage with any peace efforts,” said Malki, but he added that the US efforts could not be characterized “nor can qualify, as peace efforts, unfortunately.”

European powers along with Russia and China fear the US plan will ditch the two-state solution to the conflict that provides for a Palestinian state to be established as part of a final settlement.

Greenblatt urged council members to “support the parties to get together and to get behind this opportunity.”

‘Obsessive focus on settlements helps no one’

The council met for an informal meeting organized by Indonesia, a strong Palestinian supporter, about the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, which the United Nations considers illegal.

Greenblatt dismissed the view that the expansion of Jewish settlements was an impediment to Israeli-Palestinian peace and illegal under international law.

File: Nickolay Mladenov, left, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, briefs the United Nations Security Council in a video conference, Monday November 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

“Let’s stop pretending that settlements are what is keeping the sides from a negotiated peaceful solution,” said Greenblatt. “This farce and obsessive focus on one aspect of this complicated conflict helps no one.”

He criticized the council for taking aim at Israel over the expansion of settlements but failing to condemn the Hamas movement and Islamic Jihad for firing rockets into Israel.

A car bursts into flames after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod on May 5, 2019. (Flash90)

“Instead of seeking accountability for Hamas and Islamic Jihad… we are rehashing tired talking points, some 20 years old,” he argued.

The envoy accused the United Nations of bias against Israel, choosing “the comfort of 700 paper resolutions” condemning Israel instead of confronting the “700 rockets” fired by Palestinian militants.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi described settlement construction as “unacceptable” and urged the council to take a firmer stance against Israel.

“Inaction is not an option,” she said.

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