US envoy at UN makes bid for reviving Israel-Palestine talks

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Nikki Haley discussed reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations during her first meeting with Palestinian envoy to UN

Nikki Haley is the US ambassador to the UN (Reuters)
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Wednesday 8 March 2017 10:43 UTC
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US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, on Tuesday discussed reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations during her first meeting with the Palestinian envoy to the UN.

Haley tweeted after her talks with ambassador Riyad Mansour that the Palestinians should "meet with Israel in direct negotiations rather than looking to the UN to deliver results that can only be achieved through the two parties".

Mansour told AFP that during the 45-minute meeting Haley "raised the desire to see the two parties engaging in negotiations" and indicated that the United States was considering a fresh bid to revive talks. 

"I don't know at what level they want to do that, but once we receive a request to that effect, we will respond to it accordingly," he said.

President Trump appeared to break with decades of US official support for the two-state solution when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington last month and said he was open to other options to resolve the conflict.

"Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one both parties like," Trump said after meeting Netanyahu.

It was Haley who came back after Trump's comments and claimed the US still backed a negotiated two-state resolution. "We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out of the box as well," Haley said.

The Middle East peace process has been comatose since former US secretary of state John Kerry's efforts to broker a deal collapsed in April 2014.

France stepped in and organised an international conference in January intended to lay the groundwork for a return to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but there has been little headway.

"The US is committed to supporting a true peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," Haley said on Twitter.

Mansour described his meeting with Haley as "cordial" and said they agreed to continue discussions.

The UN Security Council will discuss Israel and Palestine on 24 March and hear a first report on whether Israel is complying with a new UN resolution demanding an end to the building of settlements on occupied Palestinian land. 

The resolution was adopted after the former US administration did not resort to its veto and instead abstained, allowing the measure to pass.

Haley has fiercely criticised the Obama presidency for failing to use the US veto to defend Israel and has dismissed the resolution as a "terrible mistake".

She has repeatedly slammed the world body for what she describes as "anti-Israeli bias". 

Last month, Haley blocked the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad to be the new UN envoy to Libya simply because he is Palestinian.

"The United States does not currently recognise a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations," she said statement.