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Palestinian President Abbas rejects US Mideast plan

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By Associated Press
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Seth Wenig   -   Seth Wenig

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vehemently rejected the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan in a speech to the UN Security Council Tuesday, calling it an attempt to keep the Palestinians from having an independent state.

He called for an international conference to pursue the two-state solution demanded in numerous UN resolutions.

Abbas called the US proposal "an Israeli-American pre-emptive plan in order to put an end to the question of Palestine."

He told the Security Council the plan violates numerous UN resolutions, annuls Palestinian rights "to self-determination, freedom and independence in our own state," and should not be considered a basis for negotiations.

"I have come to you on behalf of 13 million Palestinians to call for a just peace - that is all," he said.

Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon criticized Abbas' position and told the council that if Abbas really wanted peace, he should be in Jerusalem talking to President Benjamin Netanyahu - not at the United Nations.

"Only when he steps down can Israel and the Palestinians move forward," Danon said. "A leader who chooses rejectionism, incitement and glorification of terror can never be a real partner for peace."

Abbas minutes earlier stressed to the council: “We are fighting terrorism. We are not terrorists."

He called on the international Quartet of Mideast mediators - the US, Russia, the European Union and United Nations - and the Security Council along with other countries “to hold an international conference for peace ... to implement resolutions of international legitimacy.”

He said "the United States cannot be the sole mediator," saying the Palestinians have tried this before and will not agree to do so again.

US Ambassador Kelly Craft sidestepped a question about whether Abbas should be at the negotiating table.

President Donald Trump unveiled the US initiative for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on 28 January. It envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel, siding with Israel on key contentious issues including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements.

It had been expected that the 15-member Security Council would vote on a resolution co-sponsored by Tunisia and Indonesia and backed by the Palestinians opposing the US plan.