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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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Pentagon puts 8,500 American Troops on ‘Heightened Alert’ over Russia Threats

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During a news briefing Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 troops on “heightened alert.” Kirby stated, “I want to reinforce that as of now, the decision has been made to put these units on higher alert and higher alert only. No decisions have been made to deploy forces form the United States at this time.”

Kirby is referring to a possible deployment of American military forces to Eastern Europe in order to aid our NATO allies as potential options against Russia’s threats to invade Ukraine. Conversations are underway with NATO countries that could receive American support, he added.

NBC News reports “NATO said Monday that it was sending sh9ps and fighter jets to Eastern Europe and that Washington ‘has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that President Biden plans to speak to European leaders including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Polish President Andrzej Duda, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi by video conference.

Psaki said “we expect they will discuss diplomacy, deterrence and defense efforts” and there will “certainly” be discussion about sanctions. “We have been consulting with allies and deployments and refining plans for all scenarios” she added.

“We have always said we would reinforce our allies on the eastern flank and those conversations and discussions have certainly been part of what our national security officials have been discussing with their counterparts now for several weeks.”

NBC News reports that “among the options presented for the U.S. military in advance of an invasion were bomber fights over the region, ship visits into the Black Sea and the moving of troops and some equipment from other parts of Europe into Poland, Romania and other countries neighboring Ukraine.”

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