Palestine v. Israel, and the US Democratic Race: Our Double-Episode Podcast

The UN-scripted podcast takes you inside the United Nations and beyond the carefully written policy speeches to where the real work is being done.

by Stéphanie Fillion and Kacie Candela. Read more on PassBlue.

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Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, holds a map as he addresses the Security Council session focusing on the new Trump proposal for the Mideast, Feb. 11, 2020. Abbas described the proposed land configurations by the United States and Israel as resembling “Swiss cheese.” ESKINDER DEBEBE/UN PHOTO

President Trump has made good on his campaign promises to redefine America’s relationship with the rest of the world — for better or for worse — and the United Nations has in many ways been the epicenter of his “American First” policy abroad.

Most recently, his peace proposal for Israel and Palestine scraps decades of UN Security Council resolutions and other international law on the conflict.

On today’s episode, UN-Scripted details what happened at the UN since Trump released his plan on Jan. 28, 2020, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, called Peace for Prosperity, by interviewing Nabil Abi Saab, a Lebanese journalist who works for Al-Araby TV network at the UN in New York.

To hear the episode, download from SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Patreon, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or Google Play.

Soon after the Trump plan was unveiled, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, came to New York on Feb. 6 to try to sell it to the 15 members of the UN Security Council, even though the Arab League had already rejected it. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas traveled from the Mideast to formally reject the plan in the Security Council on Feb. 11.

Today’s episode provides exclusive insight on what happened behind closed doors at the UN and across the street at the United States mission to the UN, where Kushner met with the Security Council to push the Trump deal. Meanwhile, a draft resolution dismissing it was in the works in the Council but failed to come to life — and a vote — for the Abbas visit days later. The negotiations on the resolution — coupled with the Trump administration’s pressure campaign to stop it — even led to the sudden recall of the Tunisian ambassador to the UN.

Nabil Abi Saab explains how Tunisia, an elected member of the Council, recalled its ambassador because of what it officially said was his lack of coordination among Arab countries on the draft resolution, but Washington had been calling Council members’ capitals for days to stop support for it. Some diplomats in the Council have suggested privately that the US threatened to cut aid to Niger and some other Council members if they backed the resolution. Oddly, Niger was the only country in the Security Council meeting with Abbas to not make a public statement.

The draft resolution had also been heavily edited and amended to reflect demands by the US and other members. References to previous Council resolutions on Israel-Palestine were deleted. That included Resolution 2334 from December 2016, which states that Israeli settlements in Palestinian-occupied territories are a “flagrant violation” of international law. Abi Saab also discusses whether the draft resolution will be revived.

One hint: Israel is holding an election on March 2, so there are expectations among Council members and beyond that annexation of settlements in the West Bank by Israel will ensue soon after the vote, which could prompt the Palestinians to return to the Security Council to condemn the action.

One day after Israelis head to the polls, the US Super-Tuesday caucuses, on March 3, will further decide the fate of the US Democratic Party presidential candidates as the primary season picks up pace. Before Super Tuesday, PassBlue takes a look at the candidates’ views on the UN, NATO and broader foreign policy issues, based on an article by and interview with PassBlue contributor Jeffrey Laurenti, an international affairs expert. Like a historian, he explains how American foreign policy has arrived at the current state of affairs of isolationism versus globalism.

Originally published at on February 20, 2020.

Independent Coverage the United Nations. A project of The New School’s Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs, supported by the Carnegie Corporation.

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