Israel lauds Trump’s ‘impressive’ UN speech, while Palestinians lambast it

Liberman slams UN as ‘club of hypocrites and sycophants’; Erekat says US president’s remarks ‘closed the doors to peace’

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

US President Donald Trump speaks to the media along with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley upon arriving for the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2018, in New York. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks to the media along with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley upon arriving for the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2018, in New York. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)

Israeli officials on Tuesday praised US President Donald Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly, while Palestinians and dovish US Jews decried the address as harmful.

In his combative address, Trump urged the international community to isolate Iran, defended his administration’s steps to leave the UN Human Rights Council and move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and rejected “globalism” in favor of “patriotism.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said it has been some time since there was a world leader who understood the Middle East as well as Trump.

“We saw an impressive speech today by US President Donald Trump at the club of hypocrites and sycophants called the ‘United Nations,’” Lieberman tweeted.

“For years there has not been a leader on the world state that understands the Middle East, deals with the Iranian threat and lays down red lines for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad,” he said, adding that he hoped world leaders “will listen and internalize” Trump’s speech.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks during the opening of the IDF Exhibition in Tel Aviv, on September 20, 2018. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in a statement that “the president proves again that the US is on the right side of history.”

“While standing on the side of Israel in the struggle for stability in the Middle East, the United States leads the United Nations into a new era that ends its obsession with Israel, and pushes back against the Iranian regime,” he added.

The dovish Jewish US lobbying group J Street slammed Trump for his “bellicose and extreme rhetoric” and for advancing a “dangerous agenda” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump has “replaced our nation’s commitment to world leadership, diplomacy and human rights with aggression, bullying and ultra-nationalism,” J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami charged in a statement.

“Attacking diplomacy and international cooperation, this administration is leading us down a path toward armed conflict with Iran,” he added, calling on the US Congress to “restrain” the president.

“When it comes to the Iran nuclear agreement and to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president is advancing the dangerous agenda of his war cabinet and far-right political backers, while jeopardizing the interests and security of both the US and Israel,” Ben Ami concluded.

Saeb Erekat speaks to journalists after a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, at the Royal Palace, in Amman, Jordan, on January 29, 2018. (Khalil Mazraawi, Pool Photo via AP)

Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian peace negotiator, said Trump’s speech had “closed the doors to peace,” citing the president’s remark that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was an acknowledgement of “obvious facts.”

“What his administration did, and continues to do, is to reward and incentivize violations of international law, colonization, war crimes, and apartheid,” Erekat said in a statement.

“The reality today is that due to the one-sided pro-Israel decisions of the US administration, peace between Palestinians and Israelis have been derailed,” he added.

Erekat said peace was a “real need” for both Palestinians and Israelis, and called for a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also criticized Trump’s speech, saying it “deepens conflicts and distances the chances of achieving peace.”

He also lashed out at Trump’s comments about Jerusalem, stating that the city “will remain the capital of the State of Palestine… whether one likes it or not.”

Eric Cortellessa and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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