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Palestinian Authority President Abbas Encourages U.N. To Oppose Trump Mideast Plan


When the Trump administration unveiled its Middle East peace, plan the president of the Palestinian Authority responded with, quote, "a thousand no's." At the U.N. Security Council today, Mahmoud Abbas tried to show he was not alone in opposing Trump's plan, which favors Israeli positions. NPR's Michele Kelemen has more.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Holding up the map that the Trump administration proposed, Mahmoud Abbas told the security council that it would leave a future Palestinian state fragmented, without any real control over airspace, land or sea. Abbas spoke through an interpreter.


MAHMOUD ABBAS: (Through interpreter) This is the state that they will give us. It's like a Swiss cheese, really. Who among you will accept a similar state and similar conditions?

KELEMEN: Abbas's allies dropped plans to have the security council vote on a resolution condemning the plan. A Trump administration statement said it was a sign that the, quote, "old way of doing things is over" and that diplomats are ready to think outside the box rather than fall back on the calcified Palestinian position. But most council members did criticize the U.S. plan. European diplomats said it departs from the internationally agreed parameters of a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abbas argued through an interpreter that the deal legitimizes the, quote, "confiscation and annexation of Palestinian land."


ABBAS: (Through interpreter) I would like to say to Mr. Donald Trump that the proposed American deal cannot achieve peace and security because it cancelled international legitimacy. Who can cancel international legitimacy?

KELEMEN: Trump's plan gives Palestinians four years to negotiate. During that time, Israel is not supposed to build on land that, according to its map, would be part of a Palestinian state. But it also gives a green light to Israel to declare sovereignty over Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank without any agreement from the Palestinians. Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, says Israel will coordinate that with the Trump administration.

DANNY DANON: We value the work of the administration. We know they worked hard. Dozens of visits of the team to our region, hundreds of meetings - and we are talking with them. We will coordinate with them our next moves like we did in the past. And we have a strong partnership with the United States.

KELEMEN: He blasted Abbas for rushing to the U.N. rather than negotiating with Israel or making a counteroffer. And Danon told the security council that peace won't be possible until Abbas leaves office. The U.S. ambassador, Kelly Craft, questioned whether this debate was worth the time.


KELLY CRAFT: My fervent hope is that after today's rhetoric clears, Palestinian leaders will see this plan for the opportunity it is, roll up their sleeves and seize this chance to sit down with the leaders of Israel to begin a new conversation.

KELEMEN: Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who drafted the plan, told CNN that if the Palestinians don't negotiate, they're going to, quote, "screw up another opportunity like they've screwed up every opportunity that they've ever had." Abbas made a point this afternoon of appearing alongside a former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who called Abbas a man of peace. Their talks failed in 2008 after Olmert was indicted for bribery and forced to resign.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.