US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley upbraided Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, saying, “I will not shut up,” and vowing American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “will not change.”
Haley spoke following a lengthy speech by Abbas in which he denounced the US Jerusalem move as a violation of international law and demanded it be suspended.
“You don’t have to like that decision,” Haley said, addressing Abbas, who was absent from the chamber, “but know this, that decision will not change.”
She emphasized that the US had a right to make its own decisions on the location of its embassy by repeatedly emphasizing “our” in the phrase “our embassy.”
Nonetheless, Haley said that the US was determined to pursue peace, telling Abbas, “I sit here today offering the outstretched hand,” and noted that American negotiators were sitting right behind her, referring to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, both of whom attended the Security Council session.
Recalling a recent insulting remark by Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat, Haley said, “I will not shut up. Rather I will respectfully speak some hard truths.”
Those truths, she said, were that the Palestinians must “choose between two paths,” one of “absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence” and the second that of negotiation and compromise. The first path, she stated, “will get the Palestinian people exactly nowhere.”
“We will not chase after you,” Haley added. “The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”
Haley also took the opportunity to criticize the UN’s attitude toward the Jewish state, saying it “spends a disproportionate amount of time” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and had “proved itself again and again to be biased when it comes to Israel.”
The international body, she said, used the “most democratic country in the Middle East as a scapegoat for the region’s problems.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon also spoke in response to Abbas. Noting that the Palestinian Authority president left the chamber immediately after his speech, Danon said, “Unfortunately, he is once again running away. … Mr. Abbas came in, put his demands on the table, and left.”
Danon said this was typical of Abbas’ approach to the conflict, since he always tries to “avoid the hard choices necessary for peace,” compounding “70 years of missed opportunities by the Palestinian leadership.”
This has been proved, Danon added, by Abbas’ rejection of a proposed peace agreement in 2000 and several times more over the next decade and a half.
“You just addressed the members of the Security Council and spoke of your commitments to peace. This is what you often do when speaking to international forums; but, when you address your people, you convey a very different message,” Danon said, noting Abbas’ recent speech to the PLO’s Central Council in which he denounced Zionism as “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism,” as well as constant incitement in Palestinian media and Abbas’ own rhetoric.
“Mr. Abbas, your incitement does not end with rhetoric,” Danon continued. “You have made it official Palestinian policy to sponsor terrorism. In 2017, you spent $345 million paying terrorists for killing innocent Israelis. That is fifty percent of the total foreign aid donated to the PA. This is money you could have spent building forty hospitals. This is money you could have used to build over 170 schools. Every single year.”
“When we extend a hand,” Danon noted, “Abbas extends a fist.”
Addressing the Palestinian leader directly, Danon asserted, “You have made it clear, with your words and with your actions, that you are no longer part of the solution. You are the problem.”
Nonetheless, Danan said that Israelis were an optimistic people, and expressed hope that a new, less intransigent Palestinian leadership would emerge.
“Three times a day Jews in Israel and all over the world turn to Jerusalem, and pray for peace,” he concluded. “We have no doubt that the day will come when the Palestinian people will also be blessed with leadership that shares these noble aspirations.”
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner . Benjamin Kerstein