Ambassador Danny Danon with US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
(photo credit: ISRAEL MISSION TO THE UN)
NEW YORK – Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon delivered a harsh rebuke to Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, telling the Palestinian Authority president he is “no longer part of the solution.”
“[The Palestinians] need leadership that will speak to Israel and not run away from dialogue,” Danon said as Abbas walked out of the Security Council hall to avoid hearing the Israeli envoy’s comments.
“You just addressed the members of the Security Council and spoke of your commitments to peace. This is what you often do when speaking to international forums,” Danon said. “But, when you address your people, you convey a very different message.”
“Mr. Abbas, your incitement does not end with rhetoric,” he continued. “You have made it official Palestinian policy to sponsor terrorism. In 2017, you spent $345 million paying terrorists for killing innocent Israelis. That is 50% of the total foreign aid donated to the PA. This is money you could have spent building 40 hospitals. This is money you could have used to build over 170 schools – every single year.”
Danon told council members, “Three times a day Jews in Israel and all over the world turn to Jerusalem and pray for peace. We have no doubt that the day will come when the Palestinian people will also be blessed with leadership that shares these noble aspirations.”
Danon’s statement came after Abbas asked the Security Council to support an international conference in order to establish a multilateral peace process.
“We propose initiating a multilateral international mechanism under international law to work toward solving” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abbas said, adding that the PA was forced to take the measure because Israel and the US were “closing the door on the two-state solution.”
He also made an explicit call for recognition of a Palestinian state. “Recognition doesn’t go against negotiations, it rather promotes negotiations. Therefore I call upon the [UN] members who have yet to recognize the state of Palestine to do so.”
Since December, when President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the city, Abbas has said the Palestinians will no longer work with an American-dominated peace process, and has called for creation of a new mechanism to replace the one headed by America.
MOMENTS AFTER Danon finished his statement, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley urged the Palestinian leader to return to the negotiating table but warned that the Trump administration “will not chase after you.”
“You can choose to reject US role on peace talks and pursue international forums, but that will get the Palestinians people nowhere, or you can continue with us,” Haley said, adding, “Our decision on Jerusalem will not change.”
With White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and US special envoy Jason Greenblatt in the audience, Haley said the administration’s chief peace “negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk... The choice, [Abbas], is yours.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also condemned the Palestinian leader’s comments at the Security Council, saying in a statement: “Dr. Abbas... we all know who you are. One hand pays salaries to terrorists who harm Israel and their families, and the other hand seeks recognition from the United Nations.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres began the meeting with an opening statement lamenting the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which he warned was leading to a “one-state solution.”
“The stability of the region is at stake,” he said
In the past two months, Abbas has asked several countries to mediate and support a new peace initiative.
Israel has said it will only work with an American-led peace process.
Abbas was invited to speak before the executive body earlier this month by Security Council President and Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UN Mansour al-Otaibi, who said it was “important” that members of the top UN body “listen to the president himself.”
None of the 15 Security Council member states opposed Abbas’s planned address, including the United States.
Abbas delivered his statement in New York weeks after Haley issued a scathing rebuke of the Fatah chairman’s “lack of leadership.”
“We will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace,” the former South Carolina governor said earlier this month.
The Security Council is also scheduled to hold an informal meeting on the Middle East on Thursday, with former US president Jimmy Carter invited to participate by the Kuwaiti ambassador.