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Palestinian President to Address UN Security Council

  • Margaret Besheer

FILE - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is pictured at the summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan, March 29, 2017.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will address the U.N. Security Council on February 20, the council president announced Thursday.

Abbas will attend the routine monthly meeting on the Middle East, which focuses on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

"He is the president of the state and he is directly concerned by the topic that will be discussed," said Mansour Al-Otaibi, Kuwaiti ambassador and Security Council president for February. "I think that it is very good for council members to meet with the president and to listen to him."

The monthly council meeting typically includes a briefing by the U.N. special envoy for the Middle East peace process and statements by both the Palestinian and Israeli envoys. Council members also have the opportunity to speak about the situation.

Otaibi said no council member objected to Abbas' participation.

Criticism from Israel

Israel's U.N. ambassador issued a statement criticizing the invitation.

"After disseminating anti-Semitic messages in recent speeches, Mahmoud Abbas is now seeking to put an end to any possibility of negotiations with Israel," Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said. "By continuing to act against the United States and seeking unilateral action against Israel, Abbas is completely misreading today's reality and harming the prospects for a better future for his people."

In December, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there. An outraged Abbas rejected the decision, saying the U.S. could no longer be an acceptable mediator in the peace process. He also canceled a meeting last month with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who had traveled to the region.

The Kuwaitis are also organizing an informal session on the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to be held February 22, and they have invited former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to be the keynote speaker.

During his term as president, Carter helped broker the landmark Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979, and he has been a vocal supporter of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

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