NEW YORK - Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said Thursday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is crippling prospects for Middle East peace after announcing that he intends to speak before the UN Security Council later this month. “After disseminating antisemitic messages in recent speeches, Mahmoud Abbas is now seeking to put an end to any possibility of negotiations with Israel,” said Danon. “By continuing to act against the United States and seeking unilateral action against Israel, Abbas is completely misreading today’s reality and harming the prospects for a better future for his people,” he continued.Danon’s comments come after the Palestinian leader announced Thursday that he would seek an audience with the Security Council on February 20, during the UN body's monthly meeting on the situation in the Middle East, amid strained relations with the US administration.Security Council President and Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UN Mansour al-Otaibi told reporters on Thursday that it was "important" for the top UN body to "listen to the president himself."None of the 15 Security Council members opposed Abbas's planned address, al-Otaibi added, saying that there was no information so far as to whether Israel would participate in the debate. The Kuwaiti ambassador added that he had "not received any request" from the Palestinian Mission to the UN in relation to upgrading their status at the UN from observer state to full membership.In December 2017, Abbas stated that the Palestinians would seek full membership of the UN, and 22 other international organizations, in response to US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital earlier in the month.Abbas will deliver his statement in New York only weeks after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley delivered a scathing rebuke of the Fatah chairman’s “lack of leadership.”
The Security Council is also scheduled to hold an informal meeting on the Middle East on February 22, with former US President Jimmy Carter invited to participate by the Kuwaiti ambassador.US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement led to a swift collapse in bilateral relations between Ramallah and the White House. Following the move, Abbas stated that America could no longer be a neutral arbiter in Middle East peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, with the 81-year-old Arab leader turning to other avenues of support such as the EU. Relations only worsened when President Donald Trump decided to cut funding to UNRWA, the UN program that specifically caters for Palestinian refugees, withholding tens of millions of dollars from the relief agency. Following the January 16 funding decision, Danon praised the Trump administration for the move, saying: “UNRWA has proven time and again to be an agency that misuses the humanitarian aid of the international community and instead supports anti-Israel propaganda, perpetuates the plight of Palestinian refugees and encourages hate.“Just over the last year alone, UNRWA officials were elected to the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools denied the existence of Israel, and terror tunnels were dug under UNRWA facilities. It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed toward their intended purpose – the welfare of refugees,” Danon said.
Palestinian leader Abbas says Trump"s "crime" over Jerusalem precludes US peace role (Reuters)