Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for an international peace conference by the middle of this year to solve the long-standing Palestinian Israeli question, which is casting doubt on the United States’ role as lead mediator in the conflict.

In a rare address before the United Nations Security Council in New York, the 82 year old Palestinian leader accused Israel of acting like a ‘state above the law’ and again questioned the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel reaffirmed its position that Jerusalem would remain its undivided capital while the United States warned the Palestinian leader that rejecting Washington’s historic role would lead the Palestinian people “exactly nowhere”.

President Abbas called on the United States to clarify its position on whether it is for a two-state or one-state solution,  calling Washington’s decision on Jerusalem unlawful while rejecting its singular mediation.

Abbas said, “No country alone can solve a regional or international conflict without the participation of other international partners. Therefore to solve the Palestine questions and this is our position and our belief, it is essential to establish a multilateral international mechanism emanating from an international conference and in line with international law and the relevant resolutions to solve the Palestinian question. A multilateral international mechanism.”

He also criticized inaction in upholding several UN resolutions that settlement activity in the occupied West Bank was in violation of international law.

He added saying, “Israel is acting like a state above the law, it has transformed the occupation from a temporary situation as per international law, into a situation of permanent settlement colonization, that it has occupied territories in 1967, it was supposed to be temporary, however it has become permanent. It colonized all the areas that it wanted, including Jerusalem that your august council considers an occupied territory. How can this happen?”

When Abbas concluded his remarks, he promptly left the chamber, eliciting this response from the Israeli envoy Danny Danon who rejected any change in the status of its capital Jerusalem.

Danon said, “I expected Mr Abbas to stay with us and have a dialogue, unfortunately he’s once again running away. Look what just happened in this room, Mr Abbas came in, he put his demands on the table and he left and he’s expecting you to deliver the results. It’s not going to work that way, the only way to move forward is to have direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Washington indicated its decision on Jerusalem would not change, and again accused the UN of bias against Israel while offering its outstretched hand to the Palestinian people.

US Ambassador Nikky Haley said, “So once again you must choose between two paths, you can choose to denounce the United States, reject the US role in peace talks and pursue punitive measures against Israel in international forums like the UN, I assure that path will get the Palestinian people exactly nowhere toward the achievement of their aspirations or you can choose to put aside your anger about the location of our embassy and move forward with us toward a negotiated compromise that holds great potential for improving the lives of the Palestinian people.”

Palestine no longer views the United States as a neutral negotiator after the decision last year by President Donald Trump to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Russia’s envoy Vassily Nebenzia meanwhile told the meeting Moscow stood ready to offer a venue for talks between Palestinian and Israeli leaders without preconditions.