Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday (11 February) urged the UN Security Council to reject President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, saying it would splinter Palestinian lands and never bring lasting peace.
Brandishing a large map of a future Palestine as laid out by Trump, Abbas denounced it as a “Swiss cheese” deal that would give the Palestinians only a “fragmented state” without control of their airspace, territorial waters or East Jerusalem.
“Who among you would accept such a state?” Abbas asked, as he warned that Israel would create an “apartheid” situation if it moves ahead with annexation.
“I would like to say to Mr Donald Trump that his plan cannot achieve peace and security as it cancels international legitimacy,” Abbas said.
“If you impose peace it will not last, it cannot last.”
“This deal is not an international partnership. This proposal was from one state, supported by another state to be imposed.”
The Palestinians have sought to rally international support against the plan, which Trump unveiled alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 28 January.
But in a setback, the Palestinians dropped plans for a vote on a resolution Tuesday that would denounce the proposal.
Diplomats said that the United States has put heavy pressure, including threats of financial repercussions, on Security Council members and that even some European nations were hesitant.
A senior US official hailed the development, saying: “By not putting forward a polarizing resolution, the United Nations Security Council demonstrated that the old way of doing things is over.”
Israel ex-PM backs Abbas
The veteran 84-year-old leader, long considered a moderate among the Palestinians, rejected the use of violence but said that street protests showed the deep opposition to Israeli occupation.
“Our entire people is saying ‘No, no, no’ to this deal,” he said.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, replied that Abbas stood in the way of a solution.
“Only when he steps down can Israel and the Palestinians move forward,” Danon said.
“He is trying to blame the lack of progress on Israel. Complaining instead of leading is not leadership,” he said, calling on the Palestinians to find a “realistic solution.”
Abbas, however, won a show of support as he met in New York with Netanyahu’s predecessor Ehud Olmert, who said that any negotiations needed to involve the Palestinian leader.
“He is a man of peace, he is opposed to terror, and therefore he is the only partner that we can deal with,” Olmert, a centrist who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, told reporters with Abbas at his side.
Whenever negotiations start, “the partner of Israel to these negotiations will be Mahmud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority,” Olmert said.
Danon, the Israeli ambassador, lashed out at Olmert for going ahead with the meeting.
“He is endorsing diplomatic terrorism against Israel. It is shameful,” Danon said.
Joint stance by Europeans
The Palestinians previously won support from the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the African Union which have all rejected Trump’s plan.
On Tuesday, the four European Union members of the Security Council — France, Germany, Belgium and Estonia — as well as Poland, which left the council at the end of last year, jointly said that any Middle East solution needs to be based on lines before 1967, when Israel seized the West Bank in the Six-Day War.
Trump’s plan “departs from these internationally agreed parameters,” they said in a joint statement, while applauding “all efforts” to reach a peaceful resolution.
The European Union earlier failed to issue a similar joint statement among all members due to resistance from a handful of countries including Hungary, led by right-wing populist Viktor Orbán.
Trump’s plan would establish a Palestinian state but grant Israel sovereignty stretching to the Jordanian border, including over Jewish settlements built since 1967.
The plan would recognize contested Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel but allow the Palestinians to establish a capital on the holy city’s eastern outskirts.
Hours after Trump unveiled the plan, Netanyahu began to move forward with plans to annex much of the West Bank.
Despite the Palestinians’ refusal to deal with Trump, Abbas said that his first impressions of the billionaire turned president had been favorable.
Trump, whose evangelical Christian base is strongly supportive of Israel, has taken a series of landmark steps, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ending assistance to the UN body that helps Palestinian refugees.
“I do not know who gave him this advice. The President Trump I met was not like that,” Abbas said.