President Abbas Ready to Restart Peace Talks With Israel

President Abbas Ready to Restart Peace Talks With Israel”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was met with support at the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday, as he reiterated his opposition to the US's plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"And therefore he is the only partner that we can deal with", Olmert, who was seated beside the Palestinian leader, told reporters.

The Palestinian leader said the United States can no longer be the sole Middle East mediator.

Some EU members have already recognised a Palestinian state, although the bloc as a whole says this is a matter is still to be resolved in peace talks.

Brandishing a large map of Israel and Palestine as laid out by Trump's long-awaited January 28 announcement, Abbas called it a "Swiss cheese" deal that would limit Palestinian sovereignty.

Al Jazeera's Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah, said the outpouring of support for Abbas's speech came despite many Palestinians feeling hopeless.

In the end, no peace agreement was signed, and in 2008 Olmert left office amid a corruption scandal.

The two men, who praised each other as seekers of peace, have maintained contact over the last several years. And though they disagree on how to handle the US plan, he said Abbas is "a man of peace".

With the Palestinians rejecting the plan, Washington has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to rush towards annexation, fearing it could set the Palestinian territories aflame.

The US plan would legalize Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and allow annexation of parts of the West Bank, while Jerusalem would remain the "undivided" capital of Israel, among other proposals.

AFP reported that the United States had put heavy pressure, including threats of financial repercussions, on Security Council members and that even some European nations were hesitant.

"We must not strengthen the hand of those who reward terrorism and violence against our people", Danon wrote.

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Later, he told reporters: "Irrespective of the nature of relationships with our Israeli neighbors, we will not resort to violence".

But Israeli officials may be disappointed if they think an Abbas successor will look more favourably on President Donald Trump's deeply controversial terms.

Abbas urged Trump to disavow the plan and seek a return to negotiations based on existing United Nations resolutions that call for a two-state solution based on pre-1967 border lines.

Olmert, who said re-entering political life in Israel is not on his agenda, said he deals with Abbas as a private citizen, not as a representative of the government or an Israeli party.

Breaking with past American administrations, the USA plan announced late last month envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in about 70 percent of the West Bank, a small handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of Gaza and some areas of southern Israel - if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, disarm Hamas and other terror groups in the coastal enclave, and fulfill other conditions.

"In the absence of a credible path back to negotiations, we all face a heightened risk of violence".

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

Twelve Palestinians were injured, including two shot by rubber bullets, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

But it appeared unlikely that the Palestinians would have enough support in the council to put it up for a vote amid reports the draft resolution was put on hold following United States pressure. "This does not meet the aspirations of a two-state solution", he said.

A February 5-8 poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 94% of Palestinians reject the plan, which Trump has called the "Deal of the Century".

U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft sidestepped a question about whether Abbas should be at the negotiating table. "It's a vision. It's not a deal".

Following his UNSC address, Abbas later in the day held a press conference in NY with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

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