In what was described as “a low point in Israel’s history,” former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert joined Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a joint press conference to denounce the American peace plan.
Olmert joined Abbas just a few hours after the Palestinian leader called Israel “the apartheid regime” during a speech on Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council in New York.
Olmert and Abbas held negotiations in 2008 during the former prime minister’s time in office. Olmert resigned after being charged with corruption and was later sentenced to prison where he served 16 months.
“The only partner in the Palestinian community that represents the Palestinian people and has manifested that he is prepared to negotiate” is Abbas, Olmert said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t reach an agreement. … He is a man of peace, he is opposed to terror and therefore he is the only partner that we can build with.”
I have no idea what Olmert is seeking to do here…maybe return to relevance after his stint in jail for corruption. But if indeed Abbas is a “man of peace” and “opposed to terror,” why does he celebrate suicide bombers? Just a few weeks ago, he hosted celebrations for the PLO’s 55th anniversary, replete with marchers wearing suicide belts.
Fatah members wearing explosive belts walk the streets of Ramallah today to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Fatah's first attack against #Israel. #WestBank pic.twitter.com/HslcvAtuhp — Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) December 31, 2019
Abbas said he would resume peace talks with Israel “under the umbrella of the international quartet and not on the basis of the plan of annexation, legalizing settlements and destroying the two-state solution.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was appalled at the joint news conference.
“After I worked for three years with [US President Donald] Trump to produce the ‘deal of the century,’ a former prime minister goes to Abu Mazen [Abbas] in order to fight against it. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
The press conference came after Palestinians delayed a vote at the United Nations on a resolution that would have condemned the American peace plan proposed two weeks ago by U.S. President Donald Trump. The resolution was not going to get enough votes to pass.
“We are not backing away from putting forward a resolution, but when we arrived in New York City, it became clear to us that we still need to consult with member states that have not decided their position yet,” a source told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
Palestinians needs nine out of the 15 Security Council members to support bringing the resolution to a vote. European countries and the U.S. would vote against or abstain plus two non-EU states were reportedly considering abstentions as well.
Abbas addressed the world body’s Security Council about Trump’s plan, which favors Israel and calls for a demilitarized Palestinian state. A draft resolution decrying this plan was put forward at the UN by Tunisia and Indonesia on behalf of the Palestinians.
The original draft resolution, co-sponsored by and backed by the Palestinians, said the American plan violates international law and fails to promote a two-state solution based on 1967 borders.
According to some news reports, the United States placed “very strong pressure” on Security Council countries to vote against it. Israel was scrambling against the vote as well and cautioned that it still could go forward at any time.
“The Israeli position line has always been very clear: The only way to promote peace is through negotiations, not condemnations at the UN. I thank the countries that helped put a stop to Abbas’s unnecessary actions,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said.
Palestinians wanted the draft “to deter Israel from taking illegal unilateral measures aimed at destroying the two-state solution” such as annexing land.
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