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Abbas meets with UN chief in New York ahead of Trump meeting, UN address

Sept. 20, 2017 12:26 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 20, 2017 9:33 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Tuesday with Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres on the sideline of the 72nd UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

Abbas and Guterres reportedly discussed the latest developments in the political process and intra-Palestinian reconciliation efforts, which comes after the Hamas movement called the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip and cancel recent punitive measures imposed on Palestinians there, now that Hamas has disbanded its administrative committee that runs the coastal enclave.

Abbas also emphasized the need for the UN to uphold its role and enforce UN resolutions on the Palestinian question, according to the PA-owned Wafa news agency.

Guterres paid a visit to the Gaza Strip last month, when he demanded that Israel’s decade-long blockade on the territory be lifted, describing life in the besieged territory as "one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises" he had seen.

During Abbas' stay in New York, the Palestinian president also reportedly met with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and discussed the Palestinian issue and Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.

He also met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, King Abdullah of Jordan, Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, President of Brazil Michel Temer, and Lebanese President Michel Aoun, among others.

Abbas is expected to meet US President Donald Trump Wednesday afternoon and address the UN at 7 p.m. Jerusalem time.

During the meeting with Trump and the following speech, Abbas is reportedly expected to recommit himself to a peaceful settlement with Israel, Palestine’s head of delegation to Washington, Ambassador Husam Zomlot, told Voice of Palestine radio.

A translation of the interview by Wafa said that the meeting will emphasize the Palestinian commitment to a political settlement on the basis of UN resolutions and the policies of the successive US administrations on the Palestinian issue, particularly ending the Israeli occupation since 1967 including in East Jerusalem.

Zomlot said the Palestinian president in his address the General Assembly will also stress that any political settlement should start with ending the Israeli occupation, establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, treating the occupied West Bank and Gaza as one unit, a just settlement to the refugee issue, and US commitment to peace.

During Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the UN General Assembly and following his own meeting with Trump, Netanyahu said that "Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians," and said that he and the US president discussed the issue "at great length."

"I appreciate President Trump's leadership, his commitment to stand by Israel's side, his commitment to advance a peaceful future for all. Together, we can seize the opportunities for peace, and together we can confront the great dangers of Iran," he said.

Netanyahu also met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in New York Monday night, when Sisi reportedly told Netanyahu he thought an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord would create a new reality in the region, strengthening stability, and security throughout the Middle East.

Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks with Abbas’ Fatah and with Hamas were credited with influencing Hamas' decision to dissolve its administrative committee and launch talks with the Fatah and the PA.

Qatar's leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani also addressed the issue in his speech to the UN on Tuesday, when he called on the Palestinians to complete their "national reconciliation."

Meanwhile, a public opinion poll released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on Tuesday showed that two-thirds of Palestinians demand the resignation of Abbas and half of the public views the Palestinian Authority as a burden on the Palestinian people.

The poll further showed that if a new presidential elections were held today and only Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Abbas were nominated, the former would receive 50 percent of the vote and the latter 42 percent of the vote -- compared to 45 percent each three months ago.

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