Feb 11, 2020 - World

White House blocks Palestinians at UN, urges direct talks on peace plan

Mahmoud Abbas at the UN Security Council. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After blocking a Palestinian draft resolution at the UN Security Council rejecting its Middle East peace plan, the White House is signaling that it's willing to make changes to the plan if the Palestinians return to the table.

The backstory: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan in remarks today at the Security Council. That was to be followed by a vote on a resolution condemning the plan, but the Trump administration managed to delay the vote.

Senior U.S. officials tell me their goal was to show the Palestinians that they won't get anywhere through the UN and would be better off negotiating with Washington.

  • “Today, by not putting forward a polarizing resolution, the United Nations Security Council demonstrated that the old way of doing things is over," one senior official says.
  • "For the first time on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Council was willing to think outside the conventional box and not reflexively fall back on the calcified Palestinian position, which has only allowed the failed status quo to continue."

In his speech, Abbas said the Trump plan was a deal between the U.S. and Israel intended to “finish off the Palestinian cause."

  • Abbas didn’t attack President Trump directly. Instead, he aimed his criticism at the president’s advisers.
  • Abbas said he was willing to negotiate with Israel immediately but not on the basis of the Trump plan and not with the U.S. as the sole mediator.
  • He called for an international peace conference and for talks to resume on the basis of UN resolutions under the auspices of the Quartet — U.S, Russia, EU and UN.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, who spoke after Abbas, didn’t attack him but gave an emphatic speech stressing that the Trump administration wants to use its plan as the basis for talks with the Palestinian leadership:

“This plan is not a take it or leave it. It is not a 'my way or the highway.' It is not set in stone. Rather, it is an opening offer. It is the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one."

Where things stand: "We are ready to start negotiations," Abbas told the council, but not on Trump's terms.

  • The Quartet played a role in previous negotiations, but dialogue had been stalled for years before the Trump administration released its own plan.

Go deeper

Pompeo says he hopes security coordination between Israel and Palestinians continues

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press briefing Wednesday that he hopes security coordination between Israel and the Palestinians will continue, despite Palestinian President Abbas’ announcement on Tuesday that he would void all agreements with both Israel and the U.S. because of Israel's annexation plans.

Why it matters: Security coordination between Israel and the Palestinians is one of the main pillars of the Oslo Accords and the relationship between the parties. The U.S. has been deeply involved in security coordination and has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment and training to the Palestinian security forces over the last 25 years.

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,490,954 — Total deaths: 345,962 — Total recoveries — 2,228,915Map.
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  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
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  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
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Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Ocean City in New Jersey on May 25. Photo: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Details: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, and there were crowded scenes in several places, notably at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri and at Daytona Beach and on the Gulf Coast in Florida, per AP. Police dispersed crowds in some places, ABC notes. But many Americans did take precautions against COVID-19 as they ventured outside for the long weekend, some three months after the pandemic began in the U.S.