NEW YORK - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft touted recent U.S.-brokered breakthroughs in normalizing relations between Israel and three Arab countries on Monday, and urged her U.N. Security Council colleagues to shed their "decades-old approaches" to Middle East peace and reconsider President Donald Trump's proposal.
"The conversation in the region is changing," said Craft. "As the president said, a new chapter is beginning."
She pointed to the Sept. 15 signing at the White House of the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and two Arab Gulf countries - the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. They were the first such agreements between Israel and an Arab state in 25 years.
On Friday, Trump announced that the U.S. would take Sudan off the list of state sponsors of terrorism after the transitional government agreed to financially compensate American victims of terror and their families and to normalize relations with Israel.
Craft said these developments show that a different approach is needed to forging regional peace.
"We encourage our regional partners and the members of this body to thoughtfully consider the United States Vision for Peace and to play a constructive role in encouraging direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians on its basis," she said of Trump's plan.
The Palestinians have dismissed the proposal outright, but have left the door open to negotiations with Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also rejected the recent peace deals between Israel and the Arab Gulf countries and urged others not to follow suit "at the expense of Palestinian rights."
Israel's new U.N. envoy, Gilad Erdan, told the council in his first appearance at their monthly Middle East meeting that while their talking points have not changed for decades, the region has. He criticized the Palestinian leadership for their reaction to the peace deals.
"The fact that the Palestinians attack those who make peace with Israel demonstrates that for years, the council has been applying pressure to the wrong side," Erdan said.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki reiterated his call for an international conference early next year to reinvigorate the stalled peace process.
"The international community must act to salvage peace, or we will all bear the consequences," he told the virtual meeting.
Several council members supported the idea of an international conference on the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Craft said the U.S. does not object but does not see how it would be any different than past meetings.
"We cannot keep doing what we have been doing and expect things to change. We are failing the Israeli and Palestinian people," she said.
Many council members on Monday also expressed concern about Israel's Oct. 15 announcement that it is advancing 5,000 settlements. The U.N. said about 85% of the units are in settlements in outlying locations, deep inside the West Bank, and all are in areas that would impede the contiguity of a future Palestinian state.
"While the location of these units is particularly worrying, I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace," Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, told the council from Jerusalem.
In addition to Bahrain, the UAE and Sudan, Jordan and Egypt also have diplomatic relations with Israel.