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December 23, 2017

Abbas rules out US peace plan after al-Quds decision


December 23, 2017

PARIS: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that he would “no longer accept” any peace plan proposed by the United States, dealing a pre-emptive blow to a fresh initiative expected by Washington next year.

The comments in Paris came hours after 128 members of the United Nations voted to condemn US President Donald Trump´s decision on December 6 to unilaterally recognise Occupied al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

That move continues to reverberate in the Middle East and European diplomats are pessimistic about the Trump administration´s peace plan which is being prepared behind closed doors and will be presented to both sides in 2018.

US Vice President Mike Pence postponed a trip he was due to make to the region this week, after Palestinian and Arab Christian leaders expressed reluctance to meet him. “The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from it,” Abbas told a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron repeated his earlier condemnations of the US decision on Occupied al-Quds, but he also ruled out recognising Palestine as a state unilaterally, which France has mooted previously. “The Americans have marginalised themselves and I am trying to not do the same thing,” Macron said, conscious that any move to recognise Palestine would antagonise the Israelis.

On Thursday evening in New York, the 193-member General Assembly adopted a resolution by 128 to nine with 35 abstentions that rejected the US decision on Occupied al-Quds. The defeat for the US -- despite threats that it might cut off funding for the UN or to countries that voted against it -- was called a “massive setback” by Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour.

Speaking at the emergency session, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that Washington “will remember this day”. “America will put our embassy in Occupied al-Quds”, Haley said in defence of the US move, which broke with international consensus and unleashed protests across the Muslim world.

“No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that,” Haley said. “But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.”

Abbas hit out at efforts by the US to intimidate countries ahead of the vote. “I hope that the others will learn the lesson and understand that you cannot impose solutions by using money and trying to buy off countries,” he added in Paris.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the UN vote showed the “illegality” of Trump´s decision, urging the United States to withdraw it. Abbas´ visit to Paris less than a fortnight after a trip here by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised speculation about whether Macron might be tempted to mediate in the world´s most intractable conflict. He and French diplomats have ruled out any fresh French initiative, insisting that the American effort must run its course first.

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