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Abbas peace initiative at United Nations stirs debate among Palestinians

23 February 2018

"I expected Mr. Abbas to stay with us and have a dialogue, unfortunately he's once again running away", Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said.

The heated session appeared to reinforce intractable divisions between the two sides with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of acting like "a state above the law", while calling for an global peace conference under the sponsorship of the United Nations (UN), not the US.

Members of the American delegation were visiting a Palestinian Authority polling firm Thursday, AFP reported, when anti-US protesters gathered outside.

Indeed, the USA has grown increasingly isolated at the United Nations since Trump announced his controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a step that most of the world, including all previous US administrations, contended would have to await a final peace deal. He left the chamber before US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke. Speaking to the Council after nearly nine years, Abbas said Palestine will push for full membership in the United Nations, where it now has only observer status, and that would be a condition for a peace settlement.

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"You don't have to like it, but that position won't change", she declared, adding, "Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk".

"We appreciated the opportunity to listen to his speech", White House spokesman Josh Raffel said in a statement emailed to JTA.

It was only Abbas' second appearance before the Security Council, after a 2011 visit in which he advocated Palestinian statehood. "We will present it when it is done and the time is right".

Abbas said the principle of two-states living side-by-side with full sovereignty must be preserved, but he said the USA has not clarified whether it is for a two-state or a one-state solution.

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Abbas was the last to arrive in the Security Council, and he left immediately after his speech to attend a reception hosted by the Palestinians, avoiding any direct contact with the Americans or Israelis.

"You can choose to put aside your anger about our embassy and move forward with us", she said.

Abbas accused Israel of "acting as a State above the law". But there have been no serious negotiations since gaps widened following the 2009 election of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's prime minister.

He said an autopsy will be carried twice on the deceased; first autopsy in Israel's Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, which will be attended by a Palestinian pathologist following Israel's agreement to his participation, and second autopsy at a Palestinian hospital after Israel returns his body to his family.

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Abbas peace initiative at United Nations stirs debate among Palestinians