Palestinians Seek Peace Summit, UAE Urges Israel Talks: UN Wrap

The annual United Nations General Assembly is usually an opportunity for the Palestinians to corral the Arab world firmly behind their cause. That paradigm was under strain during this year’s gathering, which is taking place virtually as the UN turns 75.

Minutes after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the UN to hold an international conference that would bypass the Trump administration’s peace initiative, the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister delivered a different message to the Palestinians: Come back to the table and engage with Israel.

“Marginalizing yourself by being outside the room won’t really help,” Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said in a briefing Friday to UN reporters. Gargash said the UAE knew “the Palestinians wouldn’t like” its recent deal formally recognizing Israel, but he predicted that “in the longer term we will be able to help the Palestinians more and more” as the UAE “creates leverage” with Israel.

The Palestinians have cut off contacts with both the U.S. and Israel, rejecting President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan that they say is biased towards Israel. The Palestinians have lambasted the UAE and Bahrain for normalizing ties with Israel, arguing the move should only come as part of a broader agreement establishing a Palestinian state.

“The Palestine Liberation Organization has not given a mandate to anyone to speak or negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people,” Abbas told the UN. He said the normalization deals are a “violation of the Arab Peace Initiative, and the terms of reference of a comprehensive, lasting and just solution in accordance with international law.”

Gargash said the UAE’s deal with Israel was warmly received by much of the world. The country didn’t “lose a single friend or gain a single foe” from the deal, he said.

Also at the UN on Friday:

  • In an apparent rebuff to Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, France and Germany held a meeting on multilateralism chaired by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves le Drian. The event sought to bring together those “who believe that strong and effective multilateral cooperation” is indispensable just as the “rules-based international order and essential instruments of international cooperation are challenged.”
  • With Greece and Turkey engaging in one of their periodic flare-ups, this time over maritime boundaries, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the General Assembly that his country’s attitude of trust and dialogue was met with “escalation, provocation, disinformation and aggression” from Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told the UN on Tuesday that tensions in the region stem entirely from “the one-sided steps taken by Greece and the Greek Cypriots since 2003 with maximalist demands.”
  • Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has his debut speech to the UN scheduled for later on Friday. Other countries whose leaders were to speak on Friday include the Netherlands, Italy, Pakistan, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Canada and Australia.
  • The annual assembly meets again on Saturday and then has a final day of speeches on Tuesday.

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