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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Nikki Haley says US peace plan will upset Israelis as well as Palestinians

Departing American ambassador urges UN Security Council to back unseen White House proposals

Outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters. AP
Outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters. AP

The long-talked-about but as yet unpublished White House plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians contains unprecedented solutions that can end 50 years of diplomatic failure, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday, calling on other countries to support it.

In a cryptic last address to the UN Security Council's monthly meeting on matters in the Middle East, Ms Haley spoke about the eagerly awaited proposals of Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, saying that she had read them.

“Unlike previous attempts at addressing this conflict this plan is not just a few pages containing unspecific and unimaginative guidelines,” said Ms Haley, describing the initiative as thoughtful and detailed, though she did not elaborate on specific measures.

“It brings new elements to the discussion. It embraces the reality that things can be done today that were previously unthinkable.”

The White House plan of Mr Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, and Mr Greenblatt, has attracted derision and claims of bias given the administration's decisions to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem in May.

In contrast, the Trump administration closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington in September and oversaw a breakdown in relations with President Mahmoud Abbas and top officials. Mr Trump also said the US would no longer fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, reversing a policy of support by every American leader since the organisation was created nearly 70 years ago.

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Ms Haley will leave her post at the end of the year. She has often been accused of pro-Israeli bias at the UN, an allegation she denied on Tuesday.

A timetable for the White House peace proposals has been repeatedly revised. Political uncertainty in Israel and the chance of early elections there next year are adding to the chances that the plan may again be delayed.

In a parting shot at UN members, Ms Haley said the plan's chances will be determined not only by Palestinians and Israelis but also other countries, citing the New York body's “biased obsession” with Middle East peace, calling current policy “the path to an endless stalemate”.

“There are things in the plan that every party will like and there are things in the plan that every party will not like. That is certainly true for the Israelis and the Palestinians,” she said, urging diplomats to use provisions they approve of as a reason to encourage a return to effective negotiations.

“I assure you there is a lot for both sides to like,” she added.

Ms Haley's 10-minute address to the Security Council followed a downbeat briefing from the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, who spoke of a “dangerous escalation of terrorist attacks, clashes and violence in the West Bank” in recent weeks that had caused the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians.

“The security measures put in place in the aftermath of these incidents, search operations in Ramallah as well as clashes and protests that turn violent are adding to an already tense atmosphere,” he said.

Updated: December 19, 2018 09:52 PM

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