Abbas Gains Momentum After Obama Backstabs Israel

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Mahmoud Abbas: ‘The world rejects the settlement.
The Palestinian president has expressed hope that a Middle East conference in France will set a timetable to end settlements – as Israel pushed ahead with plans to build thousands of homes in contravention of a recent UN resolution.

Mahmoud Abbas spoke days after a US abstention allowed the security council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation” of international law.

Addressing a meeting of his Fatah party on Tuesday, Abbas said: “The [resolution] proves that the world rejects the settlements, as they are illegal, in our occupied land including east Jerusalem.”

He also said: “The decision lays the foundation for any future serious negotiation … and it paves the way for the international peace conference slated to be held in Paris next month, and we hope this conference comes up with a mechanism and timetable to end the occupation.”

However, , Jerusalem authorities are set to approve thousands of new housing units in the eastern sector of the city this week, despite the resolution.

France is expected to host a Middle East conference on 15 January – days before the US president, Barack Obama, leaves office. Dozens of countries could endorse an international framework for peace between Israel and the Palestinians at the meeting. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vehemently opposes such activity, saying it undermines the negotiating process, and has refused to participate in the Paris conference.

Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Abbas to meet for direct talks without preconditions. Abbas has refused unless Israel ends settlement construction first.

Palestinians lay claim to the West Bank and east Jerusalem – home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians – as part of their future state. Israel says settlements, along with other core issues such as security, should be agreed in peace talks.

Meanwhile, the pro-Netanyahu daily newspaper Israel Hayom reported that the Jerusalem district zoning committee was meeting on Wednesday to discuss approving fresh construction work in that part of the city.

“We remain unfazed by the UN vote, or by any other entity that tries to dictate what we do in Jerusalem,” said the deputy Jerusalem mayor, Meir Turgeman, who heads the zoning committee. “I hope the Israeli government and the new US administration will support us, so we can make up for the lack [of construction] during the eight years of the Obama administration.”

Netanyahu was outraged by the resolution and has declared a number of steps in response to the measure.

Israel summoned ambassadors from council members, including the US, to protest. And Netanyahu has apparently snubbed the UK prime minister, Theresa May, refusing to meet her on the sidelines of the world economic forum in Davis. He has recalled his nation’s ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal and cancelled a January visit to Israel by Senegal’s foreign minister. He also ended Israeli aid programmes to the African country.

On Monday, Israel escalated its already furious war with the outgoing US administration, claiming that it has “rather hard” evidence that Obama was behind the UN resolution.

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