At the UN Earth Day ceremony in New York on Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the “Israeli occupation” for global warming. The ceremony was intended to mark the signing of an agreement reached at an international summit in Paris last December, but Abbas seized the opportunity to engage in Israel bashing.
Abbas took the podium and addressed the representatives of 193 nations gathered to address global environmental issues. “The Israeli occupation is destroying the climate in Palestine,” Abbas declared, “And the Israeli settlements are destroying the environment in Palestine. Please help us stop the occupation and the settlements.”
“It has become vital to change the international approach to dealing with the Palestinian cause,” Abbas said. “That is why we support the French initiative, which calls for forming international support groups, holding an international peace convention, and establishing a multi-faceted method to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, responded sharply to Abbas’ remarks.
“Instead of spreading hatred here at the UN, President Abbas should act to stop Palestinian terror,” Danon said.
“This climate summit is supposed to be a demonstration of global unity for the sake of the future of our planet. Unfortunately, President Abbas chose to exploit this international stage to mislead the international community.”
The summit was the first time Abbas had attended a UN meeting as the president of a member nation, since the PA’s status was recently upgraded from non member observer state, a position it has held since 2012. The upgraded status is de facto recognition by the UN of the Palestinian Authority as a state.
Palestinian participation in the UN summit creates a legal dilemma for the US concerning a 1994 law forbidding funding for “any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”
On Monday, almost 28 Republican senators sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry saying that Palestine’s participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Paris agreement should prevent Washington from paying the $10 million annually to the UNFCC.
Though environmental groups have criticized the move, there is a strong precedent. In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was similarly deprived of its American funding, 22 percent of its total budget, after granting the Palestinians full membership. The US lost its voting rights to the UNESCO general assembly as a result. Kerry announced last year that he planned to work with Congress to restore U.S. funding to the UNESCO.
The US has pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund created by the UNFCC.
The UN Security Council will soon be another battlefield between Israel and the PA as Abbas prepares a resolution condemning the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. It is still unclear whether Abbas will indeed present the resolution to the Security council, and if he does, it is unclear whether the US will use its veto to block the resolution.