Monday, November 30, 2020

Turning away from the USA: Abbas seeks financial support and international recognition to counter Trump

By Ruth Regan - February 07, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Mahmoud Abbas] [UNRWA] [UN] [European Union] [Statehood ]

Eleven countries have agreed to plug the major funding gap that may be left by the U.S. withholding $65 million of the $125 million it had pledged in aid through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
This follows a joint press conference last month between the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas called for EU states to recognise Palestine to provide a counterbalance to the US administration’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"We truly consider the European Union as a true partner and friend, and therefore we call its member states to swiftly recognise the state of Palestine," Abbas stated.
“The only way to achieve peace with Israel is through internationally led negotiations.” 
Mogherini reaffirmed a “firm commitment of the European Union [to] the two-state solution with Jerusalem as shared capital of the two states” as well as opposing “settlement activity that we consider illegal under international law.”
“This is not the time to disengage,” she said.
Following the conference, the Slovenian parliament looked set to make a step towards recognition of Palestine, although they have now postponed the debate until spring.
If approved by parliament, Slovenia will become the second country to recognise Palestine as an EU member, following Sweden’s move in 2014.
Eight other European states recognised Palestine before entering the EU: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta and Cyprus.
Slovenia’s Foreign Minister, Karl Erjavec said the move will strengthen Palestine’s negotiation in the peace process.
Self-determination is an important aspect of the Slovenian democracy since gaining their independence 27 years ago.
“We have an independent foreign policy, we do not need any other state to cover our back,” Erjavec said.
In response to the proposal, the Israeli Ambassador to Slovenia has warned this decision will have very negative effects for Slovenia and its relations with Israel.
Recent statements of international solidarity extend beyond the EU.
Japan is making moves to recognise a Palestinian state by collecting signatures from MPs as well as committing to increasing their aid contributions. Japan donated $44.5 million of aid in 2016. They have not yet stated what their increased contribution will be.
Nabil Shaath, advisor to President Abbas for external affairs and international relations, told Voice of Palestine;
“Japan supports the formation of a new international framework for managing the peace process, breaking free from US monopoly over it.”
This week, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi will make the first official visit to Palestine of any Indian Prime Minister, being heralded as a historic moment in India-Palestine bilateral relations.
Modi is expected to reiterate solidarity and support for Palestine.  
Whilst in the Palestinian capital, he will sign five capacity building agreements and inaugurate an IT Park, as well as pay tribute to Yasser Arafat with a visit to his mausoleum and museum.
Following increasing frustration with Trump’s recent controversial decisions to both recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and to cut UNRWA funding, the Middle Eastern Eye reported the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) stopped short last week of retaliating by suspending its own recognition of Israel.
Instead, the PLO seem to be looking to the international community for increased support.
In an address to the UN on February 20, Abbas intends to request the International Criminal Court (ICC) start a judicial enquiry into Israeli settlements, racial discrimination and ongoing ethnic cleansing. He will also seek action through the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

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