The Palestinians see a few bright spots

Last week, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour hosted a reception for diplomats from 40 countries the Palestinians are encouraging to get involved in their negotiations with Israel, effectively downgrading Washington’s role as the premier broker.

He accompanied Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, to a meeting with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, who reiterated his support for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees. Mansour also helped collect $118 million in pledges to partially make up for U.S. funding cuts to UNRWA.

On Thursday, Mansour was elected to the presidency of the Group of 77, the largest bloc of developing nations. The position, which speaks for countries representing 80 percent of the world’s population, gives the Palestinians a notable voice at a time when their relations with the United States are virtually nonexistent.

“It was only a few years ago that we raised the flag of the state of Palestine before the United Nations. And it was only yesterday that the state of Palestine is chairing the largest negotiating voting bloc in the history of the United Nations. Shouldn’t I be hopeful?” said Mansour.

So far, support for Palestinian causes at the United Nations has done little to improve prospects for peace with Israel or living conditions for most Palestinians, particularly those in the Gaza Strip. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is closer than ever to the Trump administration, and the administration is a staunch defender of Israel at the United Nations.

In the past year, the United States has dropped out of the U.N. Human Rights Council, citing its “unrelenting bias” against Israel. It recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy to the contested city. It closed down the PLO office in Washington, citing its lack of progress in joining negotiations with Israel. And it cut financial aid to Palestinians, including $300 million to UNRWA that helped fund secular schools in Gaza.

Mansour cited a December vote in the General Assembly in which 128 nations condemned the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while only seven countries besides the United States and Israel opposed the measure. He also noted that a U.S. draft resolution in the Security Council in June condemning Hamas for the violence in Gaza was rejected 14 to 1, with only the United States favoring it.

[Washington Post]

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