Haley: Abbas lacks ‘courage and the will’ to seek ‘real peace’
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley talks Middle East peace and criticizes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas https://t.co/WewP2ehIBu
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 25, 2018
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, delivered on Thursday a scathing rebuke of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he lacks the “courage and the will” to strive for a lasting peace deal with the Israelis.
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting, Haley assailed Abbas for abandoning the landmark Oslo Accord and turning his back on the prospect of U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
She said that Abbas had “insulted” President Trump and advanced wild conspiracy theories in a speech before the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council earlier this month.
“In his speech, President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead,” Haley said. “He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American president. He called for suspending recognition of Israel. He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century, to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers.”
“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace,” she added.
In her sweeping remarks, Haley retraced the accomplishments of Arab leaders, particularly Anwar Sadat, the former Egyptian president who helped negotiate a peace deal with Israel nearly four decades ago.
Haley’s remarks underscored deepening tensions between Washington and Ramallah, as well as the increasing difficulty that Trump faces in his stated mission to mediate a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Those tensions soared in December, after Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that reversed decades of U.S. policy and prompted anger throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Jerusalem is revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians, and its status has long been a matter of controversy in the region. Israelis consider the city their eternal capital, while Palestinians have long aspired to establish east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
In a speech before the PLO’s Central Council this month, Abbas railed against the Trump administration’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and declared that the Palestinians see no role for the U.S. in any peace negotiations in the region.
“The deal of the century is the slap of the century,” Abbas said, referencing Trump’s claim that a U.S.-brokered agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians would be “the ultimate deal.”
The Trump administration has sought in recent weeks to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table with the Israelis, threatening steep aid cuts if Ramallah continued to reject the U.S. as a mediator for talks.
Earlier this month, the State Department announced that it would withhold $65 million in funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the organization charged with assisting Palestinian refugees. That amounts to more than half of a planned $125 million tranche of funding to the agency.
Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Trump suggested that more funding cuts for the Palestinians could come soon if they do not return to peace talks.
“That money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” Trump said.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, told CNN on Thursday, however, that the Palestinians would not recognize the U.S. as a mediator in any negotiations with Israel.
“If Jerusalem is off the table, then America is off the table as well,” he said.