Israeli UN envoy: No progress toward peace as long as Abbas in office

Israeli UN envoy: No progress toward peace as long as Abbas in office

Speaking after PA leader at Security Council, Danny Danon calls Trump proposal a ‘sane approach’ that should be given a chance

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters on, February 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters on, February 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday said peace will remain impossible as long as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stays in office.

“Let’s not beat around the bush. Progress toward peace will not be made so long as President Abbas remains in his position,” Danny Danon told the UN Security Council during a debate of the US administration’s peace proposal.

“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,” the Israeli envoy said.

Danon criticized the 84-year-old Palestinian leader, who addressed the Security Council minutes before him, for going to New York rather than to Jerusalem or Washington to engage in genuine peace talks.

“If President Abbas was serious about negotiations, he wouldn’t be here today. He would be in Jerusalem or in Washington sitting down with his negotiating partner,” he said.

“But President Abbas is not serious about negotiations, or about peace. Instead, he did what he always does – he came here to distract from his own unwillingness to negotiate, to speak,” Danon continued. “ He is trying to blame the lack of progress toward peace on Israel. Complaining instead of leading, that is Abbas’ way. That was his way when he took office, and that is his way today, in the 16th year of his four-year term.”

Abbas, who in his lengthy speech rejected the US deal as a blueprint for negotiations, has not met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the last decade but has advanced more than 150 UN resolutions in the conflict, according to Danon.

“Does that seem like a reasonable balance if you are sincere about peace? Zero meetings with your negotiating partner and over 150 UN resolutions? It is only reasonable if you have no real intention of negotiating,” he said.

The Israeli ambassador went on to criticize the international community for encouraging the Palestinians by repeatedly voting in favor of “one-sided resolutions” endorsing traditional position often assumed as the only framework that could lead to peace.

“You adopt preconditions that directly contradict previous agreements between the sides. For example, Israel and the PA previously agreed on internationally endorsed agreements that a border will only be determined through direct and bilateral negotiations,” he said.

“Yet still, some of you, against this explicit agreement, try to add a precondition that future borders must be negotiated based on the so-called 1967 lines.”

By constantly repeating that this will be the outcome of negotiations, the international community emboldens Abbas not to engage with Israel, Danon said.

“When President Abbas sees that his battles are being fought for him and there is no need for him to negotiate or agree to mutual compromises, it makes peace an ever more remote possibility.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to the UN Security Council at the United Nations headquarters on February 11, 2020 in New York. (Johannes EISELE / AFP)

Danon praised US President Donald’s peace proposal as a “sane approach” to solving the conflict as it departs from ideas that have failed time and again. “It understands that we have to try something different. Maybe it will work this time,” he said.

Addressing the members of the council, the Israeli envoy acknowledged that many countries have reservations about the so-called “Deal of the Century” but urged them to “embrace its spirit” nevertheless.

“The plan’s drafters have said themselves that the plan is only a suggestion, a tool for the sides to use in their negotiations,” he said.

Some countries are beginning to warm to the plan, Danon posited. “That is why you have used the opportunity presented by the release of the plan to call on President Abbas to negotiate. And we thank you for that,” he said.

The other speeches at Tuesday’s council session, however, did not offer much proof.

Opening the session, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the institution’s endorsement of a two-state solution among the traditional parameters, noting that the UN’s stance toward the conflict has been defined by numerous resolutions to which his office is bound.

The UN’s special envoy to the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said peace “can only be achieved through realizing the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security on the basis of the pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States.”

He also noted that the Palestinians are not the only ones who have rejected the “Deal of the Century,” but that the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Union and the African Union also have expressed criticism of the outline.

The White House plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in about 70 percent of the West Bank, a small handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of Gaza and some areas of southern Israel — if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, disarm Hamas and other terror groups in the coastal enclave, and fulfill other conditions. The plan also allows Israel to annex settlements, grants the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and overriding security control west of the Jordan River, and bars Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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