United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had strong words for top Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday: "I will not shut up."
Her remarks, made at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, were a firm response to comments made by Erekat earlier this month, in which he called her "impudent" and told her to "shut up" regarding her criticisms of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas, who spoke earlier, left the chamber before either the Israeli or the American representatives could respond– a clear diplomatic slight.
"I'm sorry that he declined to stay in the chamber to hear remarks of others," Haley said. Both she and Israel's representative, Danny Danon, remained seated during Abbas's speech. "We welcome you as the leader of the Palestinian people here today."
"But I will decline the advice I was recently given by your top negotiator, Saeb Erekat. I will not shut up," she said. "Rather, I will respectfully speak some hard truths."
Haley also disparaged the repetitive nature of the meeting's rhetoric, opening her statement by saying, "this session on the Middle East has been taking place each month for many many years, its focus has been almost entirely on issues facing Israelis and Palestinians, and we have heard many of the same arguments and ideas over and over again, we have already heard them again this morning. It is as if saying the same things repeatedly, without actually doing the hard work and making the necessary compromises, will achieve anything. "
Haley again remarked on the UN's preoccupation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that serious security and humanitarian challenges in Syria and other areas of the Middle East should be the topic of discussion, rather than to "sit here, month after month, and use the most democratic country in the Middle East as a scapegoat for the region's problems... but here we go again."
Haley said the administration "stands ready" to work with the Palestinian leadership. "Our negotiators are sitting behind me," she said. "But we will not chase after you."
"You don't have to like that decision," she said, of Trump's Jerusalem move. "You don't have to praise it. You don't even have to accept this. But know this: That decision will not change."
Haley said that Abbas faced two paths: one of anger toward the Americans and incitement of Palestinians to violence against Israelis, or one of direct negotiations with both.
Of the first, she warned: "I assure you that path will get the Palestinian people exactly nowhere toward the achievement of their aspirations."
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