Palestinian leader says U.S. peace plan would make ‘Swiss cheese’ out of Palestinian land
A U.N. Security Council vote that would have been a referendum against the plan never happened, an indication that there were not votes to approve the Palestinian-backed measure.
“This is an Israeli-American preemptive plan,” designed to allow Israel to get what it wants while blaming Palestinians for walking away, Abbas said during a tense session of the U.N.’s main decision-making body.
Waving a proposed map he said would make “Swiss cheese” of land that Palestinians claim for a state, Abbas said the Trump administration plan is a dodge meant “to put an end to the question of Palestine.”
A U.N. Security Council condemnation of the Trump proposal would give credence to Abbas’s claim that the plan was offered in bad faith and that Palestinians were right to renounce the effort led by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Kushner met with Security Council diplomats behind closed doors last week as part of an intensive U.S. attempt to head off a vote that would make it difficult for many nations, including Arab states, to allow the breathing room for negotiations that Trump has sought.
It worked to a point. Language condemning the plan was softened last week in an effort to attract European and other backing. On Monday, the request for a vote was withdrawn, averting both a diplomatic snub to Washington and a certain U.S. veto.
“Today, by not putting forward a polarizing resolution, the United Nations Security Council demonstrated that the old way of doing things is over,” a senior U.S. official said. “For the first time on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Council was willing to think outside the conventional box, and not reflexively fall back on the calcified Palestinian position, which has only allowed the failed status quo to continue.”
The official, who requested anonymity to discuss the diplomatic maneuvering, said the White House is “optimistic that countries are keeping an open mind,” about the plan as a starting point for talks.
“We hope the Palestinians will take advantage of the opportunity to move the ball forward,” the official said.
Tuesday’s session with Abbas as an guest went ahead despite the agenda switch. Few nations spoke in favor of the plan, which proposes conditional Palestinian statehood while expanding Israel’s borders into the West Bank.
Instead, Germany, France and other allies said they welcome U.S. peace efforts but that the plan does not meet the standards of fairness set out in past negotiations.
Britain was friendlier, with U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce urging other nations to give the plan a chance as a “first step” for negotiations and a settlement of the conflict that dates to Israel’s founding in 1948.
“All of us here today understand that the proposals put forward by the United States may feel very different to what has been discussed before,” said Pierce, who has been named as Britain’s next ambassador to the United States. “Time will be needed to digest them, and members of the Council should strive to provide this.”
Pierce warned against unilateral action, a reference to the likelihood of Israeli annexation of settlement areas that would be part of Israel if the U.S. map were adopted. European Union nations issued the same warning.
The United Nations has been a central player in decades of failed peace efforts. The Trump administration also blames the U.N. for erecting what it claims has become an ossified international bureaucracy that props up an obstructionist Palestinian government.
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U.N. Secretary General António Guterres did not mention the U.S. proposal in his remarks to the Security Council, but underscored that the U.N. has not changed its parameters for a just settlement.
U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft emphasized the economic boon for Palestinians envisioned in the U.S. plan and called it “a blueprint for the construction of a flourishing Palestinian state.”
“This is not a proposal of peace in theory, but of dignity in practice. The United States believes that this plan is realistic and implementable,” Craft said.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon dismissed Abbas’s address as grandstanding.
“If President Abbas was serious about negotiating, he wouldn’t be here in New York, he would be in Jerusalem,” Danon said. “Complaining instead of leading, that is Abbas’s way.”