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Palestinian leader calls for new peace plan, scolds new countries recognizing Israel

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In his Friday speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international conference early next year to hash out a new “genuine peace plan,” the Associated Press reported. In the same speech, he criticized the Persian Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for recently recognizing the state of Israel.

“We will not kneel or surrender, and we will not deviate from our fundamental positions, and we shall overcome,” Abbas said. He continued, saying, “There will be no peace, no security, no stability, and no coexistence in our region while this occupation continues.” In front of him was a plaque that read “State of Palestine.”

Whether the international community is willing to undergo another set of peace negotiations, remains unclear.

The Palestinians rejected President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan in January on the grounds that it overwhelmingly favored Israel and didn’t satisfy their own vision of an independent Palestinian state. At the plan’s negotiations, no Palestinian representatives were invited. The biggest sticking point was that the deal would see Israel maintain control over its West Bank settlements, which the United Nations has deemed illegal.

The international community’s reaction to the January plan was mixed.

Jordan, a reliable Arab ally of the U.S., openly rejected the plan because the territory of the proposed Palestinian state did not include the lands seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. French President Emmanuel Macron, while appreciative of the effort to establish terms for peace, felt that the U.S. should have been more inclusive of the Palestinians in the process, saying, “You can’t get there with just one side.”

The United Kingdom cautiously supported the plan but pushed back against Israeli efforts toward annexing parts of the West Bank. “Any such unilateral moves would be damaging to renewed efforts to re-start peace negotiations, and contrary to international law,” its foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that: “Any changes to the status quo cannot be taken forward without an agreement negotiated by the parties themselves.”

Currently, the Palestinian leadership maintains no formal diplomatic ties with either the U.S. or Israel.

Abbas’ speech follows the aforementioned Arab countries finally recognizing and establishing formal diplomatic relationships with Israel two weeks ago at a historic White House ceremony. This move has been broadly seen as a monumental milestone toward peace in the Middle East, as well as a major foreign policy victory for President Donald Trump in his re-election bid.

For many decades, almost all Arab countries refused to acknowledge the existence of the State of Israel. Today, the only other Arab countries which recognize it are Egypt and Jordan, alongside the new additions.

Egypt recognized Israel following the 1978 U.S.-moderated Camp David Accords between both countries’ respective leaders. Jordan, a major U.S. ally in the region, would later recognize the country in 1994.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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VP Kamala Harris publicly mourns Palestinians killed in hostage rescue operation

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Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the Palestinians in Gaza who were killed in the successful Israeli hostage rescue operation this weekend during an address delivered over the weekend.

Israeli forces say Hamas intentionally kept the hostages in a “civilian environment.” They also said even the Palestinians who were holding the hostages were also “civilians.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari of the IDF said Hamas has been holding hostages inside civilian buildings, including the locations where Israeli forces rescued Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Andrey Kozlov, 27.

“Before I begin, I just say a few words about the morning which I know weighs heavily on all of our hearts,” she said.

“On Oct. 7, Hamas committed a brutal massacre of 1,200 innocent people and abducted 250 hostages,” she continued. “Thankfully, four of those hostages were reunited with their families tonight. And we mourn all of the innocent lives that have been lost in Gaza, including those tragically killed today.”

The Israeli operation retrieved four hostages who were taken into Gaza by Hamas on Oct. 7. Harris, speaking before the Michigan Democratic Party, celebrated their retrieval but spent more time lamenting the deaths of Palestinians killed in the operation, many of whom Israel has described as terrorists.

“We have been working every day to bring an end to this conflict in a way that ensures Israel is secure, brings home all hostages, ends ongoing suffering for Palestinian people and ensures that Palestinians can enjoy their right to self-determination, dignity and freedom,” Harris added. “As President Biden said last week, it is time for this war to end.”

Fox News reports that Hamas-run authorities in Gaza claim over 270 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, though they make no distinction between militants and innocents. Israeli forces claim the number was fewer than 100.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also confirmed reports on Sunday that some number of innocents appeared to have been killed in the operation.

“We the United States are not in a position today to make a definitive statement about [the death toll],” Sullivan said in a Sunday interview with CNN. “But we do know this: innocent people were tragically killed in this operation. The exact number we don’t know, but innocent people were killed.”

“Every day that we see more innocent people lost is another horrible, awful, tragic day,” he added.

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