TEL AVIV – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel at the United Nations on Friday of destroying the environment by building settlements in the West Bank.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement on climate change at the UN headquarters in New York, Abbas said that the “Israeli occupation is destroying the climate in Palestine, and the Israeli settlements are destroying the environment in Palestine.”
He then called on the representatives from 175 countries who were present at the landmark agreement to “help us in putting an end to the occupation and to settlements.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon accused Abbas of using an unrelated occasion to “mislead the international community.”
“Instead of spreading hatred here at the UN, President Abbas should act to stop Palestinian terror,” he said after signing the treaty.
“This climate summit is supposed to be a demonstration of global unity for the sake of the future of our planet,” he added. “Unfortunately, President Abbas chose to exploit this international stage to mislead the international community.”
Earlier this week, Danon and Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour became embroiled in a shouting match at a meeting of the UN Security Council over the issue of terrorism and incitement to violence on the part of the Palestinian Authority.
The climate change ceremony marked the first time a Palestinian president sat in the General Assembly hall as a state party to a treaty – the result of a 2012 decision to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state.
According to Reuters, however, Abbas’ signing of the treaty could lead to complications for the United States, which has a law forbidding U.S. funding for “any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”
21 Republican Senators signed a letter addressed to State John Kerry saying the Palestinian signature on the Paris Agreement would prevent the U.S. from paying money into a global climate fund.