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Palestine's Abbas to deliver rare UN address

Friday February 2, 2018

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will deliver a rare address to the UN Security Council in Febriary, the council president said Thursday, amid strained relations with the US administration.

Abbas’ address on February 20 will come a few weeks after US Ambassador Nikki Haley strongly criticized him during a council meeting and said he lacked the courage needed for a peace.

Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour Al Otaibi, who holds the council presidency for February, told reporters that it was “important” for the top UN body to “listen to the president himself” during the Middle East debate.

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Israel as the capital of Israel has infuriated the Palestinians who have called on the United States to be stripped of its mediation role in the Middle East peace process.

Tensions have also flared over the US decision to cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement that Abbas’ address to the council would further damage prospects for direct peace talks with Israel.

“After disseminating anti-Semitic messages in recent speeches, Mahmoud Abbas is now seeking to put an end to any possibility of negotiations with Israel,” said Danon.

“By continuing to act against the United States and seeking unilateral action against Israel, Abbas is completely misreading today’s reality and harming the prospects for a better future for his people,” he added.

At a council meeting last week, Haley said Abbas had “insulted” Trump and said “we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace.”

She was referring to a speech Abbas gave on January 14 to the Palestinian leadership in which Abbas reportedly mocked Trump and thundered “Damn your Money!” in response to US threats to cut off funding.

The council has also invited former US president Jimmy Carter, who signed the 1978 Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt, to address an informal meeting on Palestine on January 22.


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