Palestinian President Addresses UN, US Says Ready For Peace Talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international conference to be held by mid-2018 to pave the way for recognition of Palestinian statehood, in a rare address to the UN Security Council on 20 February.

Abbas said he would step up efforts to achieve full UN membership for Palestine and urged countries that have yet to recognize it to do so, as part of a wider Middle East peace process.

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His address to the top UN body came amid simmering global concern over President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as lead mediator in the Middle East peace process.

Tensions have also flared over the US decision to cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Also Read: Why The Uproar Over Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration?

Abbas said his proposed conference should lead to full UN membership for the state of Palestine, mutual recognition of Israel and Palestine, and the creation of a new international mechanism to reach a final settlement.

The address came just weeks after US Ambassador Nikki Haley launched a scathing attack on Abbas and accused him of lacking the courage needed for peace.

Also Read: O Jerusalem! Trump Crosses the Rubicon

‘US Ready to Talk Middle East Peace'

In response to President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, the US Ambassador said that US negotiators were "ready to talk, but we will not chase after you."

US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt sat behind Haley at the Security Council meeting. Kushner and Greenblatt are working on a new Middle East peace plan.

Abbas did not stay in the council chamber for Haley's remarks.

(With inputs from Reuters & PTI)

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