Palestinian leader says US cannot impose peace deal

Talks can only resume on the condition that a future Palestinian state comprises the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem

Ramallah: President Mahmoud Abbas says the US cannot impose a peace deal on the Palestinians.

Raising his pen at a rally on Tuesday, he said “this is our pen and we are the only ones to sign.”

Abbas said talks can only resume on the condition that a future Palestinian state comprises the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem, all territories captured and occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.

Palestinians were outraged by President Donald Trump’s recognition of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

Abbas has said the move disqualifies the US as peace mediator.

Abbas will address the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 20 during the body’s monthly meeting on the Middle East amid tensions over the United States decision to recognise Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Since Trump broke from decades of United States policy with his Dec. 6 announcement on Occupied Jerusalem, Abbas has said he will ask the council to grant full UN membership to the Palestinians and will only accept an internationally-backed panel to broker any peace talks with Israel.

“This will be a good thing for members of the Security Council to listen to the president himself,” said Kuwait’s UN Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al Otaibi, president of the council for February.

“No council members rejected this proposal.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council last week that Abbas lacked “the courage and the will to seek peace.”

Trump has threatened to withhold aid to the Palestinians if they did not pursue peace with Israel but Abbas has said the United States had taken itself “off the table” as a peace mediator in recognising Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In 2012, the UN General Assembly granted de facto recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state when it upgraded their status to a “non-member state” from an “entity.”

However, the UN Security Council has to recommend a state for full membership to the General Assembly, which then needs to approve it with a two-thirds majority.

The United States, Israel’s chief ally, would likely veto a Palestinian bid in the Security Council.

In December the 193-member General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favour.

A total of 128 countries backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against and 35 abstained.

Twenty-one countries did not cast a vote.


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