September 25, 2020

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

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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