PA’s Abbas Addresses U.N. on Trump Plan, But No Vote

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -
Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, Tuesday. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his rejection of the Trump administration’s Mideast plan in an address to the U.N. Security Council Tuesday, but members will not be voting on a draft resolution opposing the U.S. proposal.

President Donald Trump unveiled the U.S. initiative for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Jan. 28. It envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel, siding with Israel on key contentious issues including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat denied reports that the draft resolution was pulled because of a lack of support, saying in a statement that the “rumor” the Palestinians withdrew the resolution is “not true and totally baseless.”

He said the draft resolution, which initially said the U.S. plan undermined the Palestinian people’s aspirations for independence, is still being discussed and will be put to a vote once those discussions conclude with “a formula that represents our positions.”

The original draft resolution, cosponsored by Tunisia and Indonesia and backed by the Palestinians, also said the U.S. plan violates international law and Security Council demands for a two-state solution based on borders before the 1967 Mideast war. It would have expressed the council’s determination “to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions, including enforcement measures under Chapter 7 of the [U.N.] Charter,” which can be by military or nonmilitary means.

The resolution had been expected to be put to a vote on Tuesday when Abbas addressed the Council. But diplomats said many of its provisions were not acceptable to European members of the Council, who support a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders, and other Council members.

After lengthy negotiations and revised drafts through the weekend, and the circulation of a drastically amended text by the United States, the Palestinians decided against putting any draft in “blue” — a final form for a vote, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

Erekat said since the resolution hasn’t been put in “blue,” it cannot be said that it was pulled.

The proposed U.S. draft, obtained by The Associated Press, strips a reaffirmation of previous U.N. resolutions and references to pre-1967 borders as well as a condemnation of “all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including east Jerusalem, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.” A previous draft eliminated the reference to Chapter 7.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon called the original draft “an anti-U.S. resolution” and said if it’s modified in “a constructive way, maybe the Council will support it.”

“We look at it as a starting point for negotiations,” he said of Trump’s plan, adding that Abbas should come to Jerusalem to address the Israeli people and “deliver a message of hope, instead of a message of hate.”

After Abbas addresses the Security Council on Tuesday, he will appear at a press conference with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, an opponent of the U.S. plan who was forced to resign a decade ago ahead of a corruption indictment that later sent him to prison for 16 months.

Danon said he thinks “it’s unfortunate … and shameful that [Olmert] will be standing with president Abbas, especially this week when we saw attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers” and a resolution “trying to condemn the U.S., our strongest ally. And I think from a former prime minister we should expect more.”

Last week, Jared Kushner, the architect of the U.S. plan, called Olmert’s expected appearance with Abbas “almost pathetic,” accusing him of “trying to grab a headline when you’re irrelevant.”

He added: “It comes from a lot of jealousy that they couldn’t get it done themselves.”