Abbas at UN: Palestinians Will Present Security Council Resolution Against Israeli Settlements

Abbas, in his UN address, says Britain should apologize for 1917 Balfour declaration.

Abbas addresses the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 22, 2016.Timothy A. Clary, AFP

NEW YORK - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that he plans to soon present the United Nations Security Council with a resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Abbas said he hoped no country would veto the resolution. The Palestinians will "continue to exert all efforts" for a UN Security Council resolution against Israel," Abbas said, adding that he was "in intensive consultations with Arab countries" regarding the resolution.

Abbas' full speech at the UN General Assembly

Abbas stressed that the Palestinians' 1993 recognition of Israel "remains in force," but added that Israel "must reciprocate with similar recognition of Palestine and put an end to the occupation."

"Both nations must live side by side as good neighbors in secure borders," he said.

The president also called on the countries of the world to support the French proposal for a peace conference, which he said Israel was "trying to avoid." He expressed the hope that all states will support the convening of a peace conference before the end of the year.

"If there is no conference and no contacts between us how can peace be made?" he asked.

The Palestinian president said that both Israel and Britain, who in 1917 endorsed the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel, should take responsibility for their part in the Palestinian Nakba. 

"The United Kingdom must take responsibility for the damages of the Balfour declaration," Abbas said. "It should apologize and recognize Palestine."

Abbas criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent statement that dismantling settlements would constitute "ethnic cleansing," calling the remarks "contemptuous."

"Who is practicing ethnic cleansing?" he asked, saying that "racial discrimination is a daily reality, Israel continues to grant permits for settlements and infrastructure in the occupied territories while preventing Palestinians from using their land." It also "continues to alter the identity and status of East Jerusalem," he said.

Speaking of Israel's policies, Abbas said that it "must cease its extrajudicial executions and cease the arrest of our people, and must release the thousands of our prisoners and detainees.

"It must cease its aggression and provocations against the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque. For all of these policies and practices prevent an environment in which peace can be realized in our region," he added.

Abbas stressed that the dispute between the Palestinians and Israel doesn't extend to relations with the Jewish people, adding that that he views the Holocaust "as one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against humanity."

"There is no conflict between us and the Jewish religion and its people.  Our conflict is with the Israeli occupation of our land.  We respect the Jewish religion and condemn the catastrophe that befell the Jewish people in World War II in Europe, and view it as one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against humanity," he said.