Ab­bas re­jects US as sole Mid­dle East me­di­a­tor

Viet Nam News - - WORLD -

UNITED NA­TIONS — Pales­tinian leader Mah­mud Ab­bas tore into the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Thurs­day, re­fus­ing to ac­cept the United States as the sole me­di­a­tor in the Mid­dle East con­flict, a day af­ter Don­ald Trump promised a “very fair” peace plan.

The 82-year-old Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity pres­i­dent used his ad­dress to the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly to lam­bast the United States for clos­ing the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion of­fice in Wash­ing­ton, recog­nis­ing Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of Is­rael, mov­ing its em­bassy and slash­ing Pales­tinian aid money.

Speak­ing a day af­ter the US pres­i­dent said he favoured a twostate so­lu­tion to end the Is­raeliPales­tinian con­flict and vowed to un­veil a new peace plan within months, Is­rael’s Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu hailed Trump for his “un­wa­ver­ing sup­port”.

Ab­bas, how­ever, said Trump had for­feited his right to be re­garded as a neu­tral bro­ker.

“We will also not ac­cept sole Amer­i­can me­di­a­tion in the peace process,” he said, ac­cus­ing the former real es­tate ty­coon of be­ing “bi­ased” to­wards Is­rael since tak­ing of­fice in Jan­uary 2017.

“With all of these de­ci­sions, this ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­neged on all pre­vi­ous US com­mit­ments, and even un­der­mined the two-state so­lu­tion,” Ab­bas told the world body in a nearly 40-minute speech.

“It’s re­ally ironic that the Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion still talks about what they call the ’deal of the cen­tury.’”

Pales­tinian lead­ers have long seen Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as bla­tantly bi­ased in favour of Is­rael and seek­ing to black­mail them into ac­cept­ing their terms.

The Pales­tinian lead­er­ship cut off con­tact with the White House af­ter Trump recog­nised Jerusalem as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal last De­cem­ber and the United States has also cut more than $500 mil­lion in Pales­tinian aid.

“From this au­gust plat­form, I re­new my call to Pres­i­dent Trump to re­scind his de­ci­sions and de­crees ... in order to sal­vage the prospects for peace,” Ab­bas said.

Last Fe­bru­ary, Ab­bas called for an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence to re­launch the peace process un­der a new me­di­a­tor to re­place the United States, in an ad­dress to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

On Thurs­day, he said there could be no peace with­out an in­de­pen­dent Pales­tinian state with east Jerusalem as its cap­i­tal, call­ing on coun­tries to recog­nise the state of Pales­tine.

“We are not against ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he added. “We will con­tinue to ex­tend our hands for peace.”

New plan

Trump pledged Wed­nes­day to un­veil a new peace plan by the end of the year, turn­ing heads by sup­port­ing for the first time a twostate so­lu­tion.

His son-in-law Jared Kush­ner is part of a team work­ing on the plan, whose ef­forts have been met with de­ri­sion by Pales­tini­ans who note that Is­rael has not been asked pub­licly for any con­ces­sions in re­turn for the Jerusalem recog­ni­tion.

When meet­ing Ne­tanyahu on the side­lines of the Gen­eral Assem­bly, Trump said he backed a two-state so­lu­tion since “that’s what I think works best.”

His en­dorse­ment of the goal of a Pales­tinian state, long the fo­cus of US peace ef­forts be­fore he came into of­fice, was de­cid­edly luke­warm — and he slightly back­tracked from it later.

“If the Is­raelis and the Pales­tini­ans want one state, that’s OK with me,” he said. “If they want two states, that’s OK with me. I’m happy if they’re happy.”

While Trump’s com­ments sparked con­cern among some Is­raeli right-wingers who hoped he would bury the idea of Pales­tinian state­hood once and for all, Ne­tanyahu had warm words for the pres­i­dent.

“I look for­ward to work­ing with Pres­i­dent Trump and his peace deal,” said Ne­tanyahu in his speech in which he also praised Trump and the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador to the UN, Nikki Ha­ley, for their “un­wa­ver­ing sup­port” at the world body.

Is­rael has long ar­gued that the UN’s Pales­tinian refugee agency, known as UNRWA, has per­pet­u­ated the Mid­dle East con­flict by main­tain­ing the idea that mil­lions of Pales­tini­ans are refugees with a right to re­turn to homes in what is now Is­rael.

The an­nounce­ment last month that the US — which had been UNRWA’s big­gest con­trib­u­tor — would no longer fund the agency raised a ques­tion mark about the fu­ture of a range or so­cial and wel­fare pro­grams as well as fears that many schools would have to close.

UNRWA re­ceived pledges of $118 mil­lion Thurs­day from donor coun­tries to help plug some of the gap. Kuwait and the Euro­pean Union were among the big­gest con­trib­u­tors, UNRWA chief Pierre Krae­hen­buehl told re­porters.

Aside from cut­ting funds to UNRWA, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has also cut $200 mil­lion in bi­lat­eral aid to the Pales­tini­ans for projects in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. — AFP

Pales­tinian school stu­dents at the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip shout slo­gans and hold signs protest­ing the US move to freeze fund­ing for the UN agency for Pales­tinian refugees in March 2018. — AFP/VNA Photo

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