Danon: Abbas Still ‘Doesn’t Get It’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

An appeal by Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to the international community that it “recognize Palestine” as a way of binding Israel to the two-state solution — instead of agreeing to talk to Israel — is “the height of hypocrisy,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said Monday. “Once again, Abbas and the Council are pursuing an agenda against Israel. It’s about time that Abbas accepts the fact that there is a new era at the U.N., when anti-Israel speeches and actions are no longer acceptable, and that activities against Israel in international forums will not be effective. The only effective path to peace is via direct talks with Israel.”

Speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva at the opening of its 2017 session, Abbas said that “for the sake of the two-state solution, the world must immediately recognize Palestine.” The recognition of Palestine would present the two-state solution as an established fact, and thus present the United States and Israel with an “established fact,” in case they opt for a “one-state” or other solution, said Abbas. “Countries that have recognized Israel should also recognize Palestine, in order to protect and defend the two-state solution.”

Abbas’s appeal comes after President Donald Trump cast doubts on the future of that solution. At his meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier in February, President Trump said that as far as he was concerned, the final resolution of the Middle East conflict was up to both sides. “So, I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Netanyahu and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his part, said that he was also ready for any solution, but that Israel’s security could not be compromised. “First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state; they must stop calling for Israel’s destruction,” he told reporters after the meeting. “Second, Israel must retain security control over all of the area west of the Jordan River.” Absence of that, the result would be, as happened in Gaza, “another failed state, another Islamist dictatorship that will not work for peace, but work to destroy us,” Prime Minister Netanyahu added.

Abbas said on Monday that despite his difference of opinion with the president, the Palestinian Authority was very interested in working with the new administration to hammer out a deal. The PA, according to reports, is extremely concerned that President Trump will fulfill his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Israel to Yerushalayim, and fears that the installation of David Friedman as America’s ambassador to Israel will prevent it from making demands in negotiations, if any are to take place.

A weekend report said that the United States is considering withdrawing from the Council. According to Politico, President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley are likely to discuss the matter. A former State Department official quoted in the report said that “there’s been a series of requests coming from the secretary of state’s office that suggests that he is questioning the value of the U.S. belonging to the Human Rights Council.”