UNITED NATIONS - Outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is urging the Palestinians to accept a peace deal, saying they have more to gain than Israel.
“It is time we faced a hard truth: both sides would benefit greatly from a peace agreement, but the Palestinians would benefit more, and the Israelis would risk more,” Haley said Tuesday at her final appearance at the monthly Security Council meeting on the Middle East issue.
“Israel is a thriving, strong, prosperous country,” Haley told fellow ambassadors. “It has always wanted peace with its neighbors. It has clearly demonstrated its willingness to make big sacrifices for peace, including giving up large areas of land, but Israel will not make a peace agreement at any price, and it shouldn’t,” she said.
Haley, an outspoken advocate for Israel said of the Palestinians: “Given my record, some may mistakenly conclude that I am unsympathetic to the Palestinian people – nothing could be further from the truth.”
The U.S. envoy described the Palestinians as a proud people, and like the Israelis, do not need to accept a peace agreement at any price.
“But the condition of the Palestinian people is very different,” she added.
Haley noted the poor state of the Palestinian economy, the lack of basic services, including health care and electricity, and the de facto rule of Hamas over the Gaza Strip.
“Terrorists rule much of the territory, undermining the safety of all civilians,” Haley said. “The Palestinian people are suffering terribly, while their leadership clings to 50-year old demands that have only become less and less realistic.”
A peace agreement, she said, would offer the Palestinians the possibility of a “massive improvement” in their living conditions and greater control over their political future.
The Trump administration has repeatedly delayed unveiling its much anticipated plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace and in the meantime has taken unilateral steps, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and dramatically cutting its funding to the U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees. Both moves have infuriated the Palestinian leadership and severely strained their relationship with Washington as an impartial peace broker.
President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and his Special Envoy on the peace process, Jason Greenblatt, are tasked with putting a plan together to end one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.
Haley, who is also a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, told council members she has seen the proposed plan and that it is “not just a few pages, containing unspecific and unimaginative guidelines,” but is longer with “much more thoughtful detail.” But she did not elaborate on any of those details, only saying it would be different from all previous proposals.
“There are things in the plan that every party will like, and there are things that every party will not like,” she added. She urged both sides to focus on what they do like and push negotiations forward. “Ultimately, as always, the final decisions can only be made by the parties themselves, she said, noting it will be up to the Israelis and Palestinians to decide their own futures and what sacrifices they are willing to make.
Tensions have been high in recent days, with an increase in terrorist attacks, clashes and violence in the West Bank, and security measures and search operations in response from the Israeli side. There have been casualties on both sides.
The U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, lamented to the council in his briefing that the international community is nowhere closer to reviving efforts for a negotiated solution.
“Without a political horizon, all our collective and individual efforts merely contribute to managing the conflict rather than resolving it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Jordan’s King Abdullah Tuesday in Amman. The Jordanian news agency Petra reported the king stressed the need to break the stalemate in the peace process and launch serious and effective talks between the two sides.