Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office rejected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s reiteration of his intention to approach the United Nations for recognition of a Palestinian state on Friday, saying peace cannot be achieved through a unilateral declaration and alignment with Hamas.
“Peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel, a statement released by the prime minister’s office said on Friday, accusing the Palestinian Authority of consistently avoiding talks with Israel.
It concluded saying “when the Palestinian Authority will abandon its futile measures, firstly its unilateral decision to approach the UN, it will find Israel as a partner for negotiations and peace.”
The statement was released shortly after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that the Palestinians plan to approach the United Nations Security Council for full recognition, clarifying that they are seeking to delegitimize the occupation, not Israel, by taking the UN route for Palestinian statehood.
Abbas stressed that Israel is a legitimate state, but that by continuing to build in the settlements and rejecting the internationally recognized borders of a future Palestinian state, they are engaging in illegitimate activity.
Abbas gave his address in Ramallah a week before the United Nations is set to vote on Palestinian statehood, which is due to take place in the UN General Assembly on September 23.
"What I will take to the UN will be the suffering and concerns of our people that have been taking place over 63 years living under the occupation," Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians, like every nation, deserve independence, adding that the Palestinians want a state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Abbas said that the PLO plans to continue to be the sole representative of the Palestinian people, not only at the diplomatic level but also through the implementation of the necessary steps needed to bring about a Palestinian state.
Later in his speech, however, the Palestinian president touched upon the Cairo-brokered unity deal between the moderate West Bank – based Fatah and the more militant Gaza-based Hamas, saying that “there is nothing better than national unity between the West Bank and Gaza, and we will do everything we can to maintain this unity.”
Abbas said that collaboration between the West Bank and Gaza is a national duty, and they will continue to take steps to maintain this, “even if we differ on some issues.”
He referred to the latest World Bank report in which it lauded the PA’s institution building in the West Bank, adding that this along with the Middle East Quartet and U.S. President Barack Obama’s commitment to obtaining headway on the establishment of a Palestinian state in September were a strong foundation for the upcoming bid for recognition.
Abbas added that the completion of its institution-building efforts was another impetus to approach the UN in September.
The Palestinian president clarified that the PA’s decision to approach the UN was not a unilateral declaration but rather a step in the right direction, with further talks to ensue as a prerequisite for final-status statehood.
Ben Rhodes, U.S. deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told reporters on Friday that the United States has “been very clear that we don't believe that unilateral actions at the United Nations will lead to a Palestinian state”
Rhodes continued, saying that the only way to achieve Palestinian statehood is through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, adding ; “That’s the only way you're going to be able to deal with issues of borders and security and the future of Jerusalem.”
The security adviser emphasized that “we believe that for the peace to be lasting, for the Palestinians to realize their aspirations, that's going to have to be accomplished through negotiation with Israel, not through actions at the United Nations. So that will be the U.S. position in New York".
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