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February 18, 2020

Bad plan

Opinion

February 18, 2020

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has delivered a dramatic condemnation of the US-drafted Middle East peace plan. No country, except Israel, has approved of the proposals at any public forum.

Still, several nations around the world want the Palestinians to use the plan as a means of reopening negotiations with Israel by presenting its own vision.

Whether this is possible under the current leadership is an open question. Abbas is in his waning years and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu draws support from the rightest of the right wing.

Gesticulating, Abbas compared the US peace proposal, presented in January by President Donald Trump, to “Swiss cheese.” Holding maps dating back to 1948 of shrinking Palestinian space, Abbas asked 15 United Nations Security Council members on Tuesday: “Who among you would accept such a state?”

“Every time I look at this map, I lose hope,” he said. He also backed an international conference, but it received little support.

The plan is painful for any Palestinian and largely devised by Netanyahu’s team working with US envoy Jared Kushner. It calls for a two-state solution, as UN resolutions have for decades.

But then it relegates a future Palestinian state to a third of what was envisioned 25 years ago in the Oslo Accords, the beginnings of a peace process that ended in stalemates, particularly after the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995.

Scattered in the newly proposed state are a plethora of Israeli settlements guarded by Israeli security. In Jerusalem, the plan relegates Palestinian control to impoverished suburbs. Most of the world regards the settlements as illegal.

Before the Trump administration, the United States for years supported the creation of a Palestinian state with adjustments to Israeli boundaries before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Nothing worked.

US Ambassador Kelly Craft said the Trump administration’s 181-page peace plan was a basis for negotiations and could be subject to changes.

“It is an opening offer,” Craft told the Council. It is “a conversation that is a starting point, not a finishing line. … It is not set in stone. … It is the beginning of a conversation – not the end of one.”

Britain was a bit more conciliatory compared to a slew of negative comments in the 15-seat Council, complimenting the US efforts. Ambassador Karen Pierce said her country now “looks to the Palestinian leadership to offer its own vision for a settlement” and to find a way to negotiate.

In a statement, read by Belgian Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin, Council members of the European Union (France, Belgium, Germany, Estonia) voiced their displeasure: “In line with the long-standing EU position, we remain committed to a negotiated two-state solution, based on 1967 lines, with equivalent land swaps, as may be agreed between the parties…”

Excerpted from: ‘How the UN’s Middle East Peace Plan Was Trounced by Its Own Members’.

Counterpunch.