Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday that his government would seek non-member status for Palestine, but he warned that Israel was "promising the Palestinian people a new Nakba" if it continues with its current settlement policies in the occupied West Bank.
Nakba is the term used by Palestinians to refer to the "catastrophe" of the 1948 war over Israel's declaration of independence, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced or made refugees.
Over the past few months, Abbas said, "attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of the year." He added that Israel had demolished 510 Palestinian structures over the past 12 months, displacing some 770 Palestinians from their homes.
"We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, and our homes and schools; they are unleashing their venom against our trees, fields, crops and properties, and our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli government," he said.
He blamed the attacks on Israeli government policy, which he said supports settlements and occupation and creates a "racist climate" and a "culture of incitement." He also accused Israel of committing war crimes, including "murder, torture and abuse of peaceful civilians."
Israel's actions, said Abbas, show that it rejects the two-state solution.
However, he said, the Palestinians remain committed to peace and non-violence. "We realize that progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO and Israel," he said.
"Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community there is still a chance - maybe the last - to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace," Abbas said.
Noting the PA's aborted attempt to gain UN Security Council recognition as an independent state last year, which he said was foiled by "a major and hostile uproar," he said he would seek a General Assembly resolution declaring Palestine a non-member state during the current session.
At last year's General Assembly, Abbas attempted to win full membership to the world body. However, that application failed to win enough support in the UN Security Council. The Palestinians did win membership last year to UNESCO, the Paris-based UN cultural agency, despite the objections of Israel and the U.S.
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