Mahmoud Abbas to address UN Security Council


(JTA) — The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council this month during a meeting about the Middle East.

Abbas, who is scheduled to appear before the council on Feb. 20, has said he will ask its members to grant full U.N. membership to the Palestinians and will only accept an internationally-backed panel to broker any peace talks with Israel, Reuters reported Thursday.

On Dec. 6, President Donald Trump declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, sparking furious reactions throughout the Arab World and in the Palestinian Authority. Abbas said in several speeches since then that it effectively ended the Oslo Accords — an interim understanding reached in 1993 on the path to a final settlement of the Palestinian-Israel conflict – and the United States role as an honest broker.

“This will be a good thing for members of the Security Council to listen to the president himself,” said Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, president of the council for February. “No council members rejected this proposal.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council last week that Abbas lacked “the courage and the will to seek peace.”

Trump has threatened to withhold aid to the Palestinians if they did not pursue peace with Israel but Abbas has said the United States had taken itself “off the table” as a peace mediator in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon accused Abbas of “seeking to put an end to any possibility of negotiations with Israel” with his address to the 15-member Security Council.

“Abbas is completely misreading today’s reality and harming the prospects for a better future for his people,” Danon said in a statement on Thursday.

Al-Otaibi said Israel had not yet asked to send a high-level representative to the council meeting.

In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly granted de facto recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state when it upgraded their status to a “non-member state” from an “entity.”

However, the U.N. Security Council has to recommend a state for full membership to the General Assembly, which then needs to approve it with a two-thirds majority. The United States would likely veto a Palestinian bid in the Security Council.

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