Netanyahu and Abbas, both a focus of Trump policies, to take UN stage

TEL AVIV (dpa)- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will come into close proximity on Thursday when they are expected to speak within one hour of each other at the UN General Assembly.
The leaders, who have stood diametrically opposed for years, are now at the centre of US President Donald Trump's upending of decades of US policy towards the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Abbas has born the brunt of Trump's controversial moves including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and slashing US aid to the Palestinians. But Abbas has already rejected an upcoming US peace proposal out of hand and it is unclear what steps, if any, the politically-weak octogenarian leader may announce in opposition to Washington.
The one card Abbas can play is to end security cooperation between Palestinian forces and the Israeli army in the West Bank or dissolve the 1993 Oslo Accords, which could entail handing Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank back to Israel.
But either move could lead to large-scale instability in the West Bank, something Israel wants to avoid, and may embolden militant opposition to the Palestinian president.
Abbas already said he would end the Oslo Accords during his 2015 UN General Assembly speech, but no actions followed.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu will likely applaud Trump's policies towards Israel, but largely ignore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and focus instead on his main priority - Iran. Along with Iran's nuclear programme, the Israeli premier says that Tehran is attempting to open a new front against Israel in Syria.

Thursday, September 27th 2018

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