Abbas at UNGA: Israel Perpetrated Genocide in Gaza, We Won't Forget or Forgive

Palestinian president calls for 'comprehensive' strategy to end Israeli 'state terrorism,' urges UN Security Council to pass resolution to terminate occupation.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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President Mahmoud Abbas, of Palestine, addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, Fri., Sept. 26, 2014.
President Mahmoud Abbas, of Palestine, addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, Fri., Sept. 26, 2014.Credit: AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Friday of conducting a "war of genocide" during the 50-day summer conflict in Gaza but stopped short of saying he will pursue war crime charges against Jerusalem at the International Criminal Court.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly, Abbas also said he will seek a UN resolution to set a deadline for Israel to pull out of Palestinian lands captured in the 1967 war. He did not, however, include a three-year deadline as his aides had said he would, evidently due to concerns that the U.S. would veto such a resolution, Palestinian officials told Haaretz.

"In this year, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Israel has chosen to make it a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people," Abbas said.

Instead of rectifying "the historic injustice" of the 1948 "Nakba" by allowing for the establishment of a Palestinian state, Abbas said, "the occupying power has chosen to defy the entire world by launching its war on Gaza, by which its jets and tanks brutally assassinated lives and devastated the homes, schools and dreams of thousands of Palestinian children, women and men and in reality destroying the remaining hopes for peace."

The Palestinian leader mentioned his previous speeches before the General Assembly, during which he warned of an impending catastrophe that would befall the Palestinians if an independent state isn't established. "I also said at that time: there was no need for a new devastating war in order to realize the absence of peace," he said, referring to a speech he made in 2012.

"This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment," Abbas added. The devastation unleashed, he said, "is unmatched in modern times."

He dismissed attempts to minimize the destruction by citing Israel's right to self-defense, a remark evidently directed toward the U.S.

"In the name of Palestine and its people, I affirm here today: we will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment," Abbas said.

The Palestinian Authority chairman further affirmed the Palestinians' "legitimate right to defend themselves against the Israeli war machine" and "their legitimate right to resist this colonial, racist Israeli occupation." But he stressed that adversity will not "make us abandon our humanity, our values and our ethics; we will always maintain our respect and commitment to international law, international humanitarian law and the international consensus."

'Israel foiled chance for peace'

Abbas claimed that the Palestinians entered U.S.-mediated negotiations with Israel prior to the hostilities in Gaza in good faith, and that it was the Israeli government that foiled the chance for peace by perpetuating "settlement construction, land confiscations, home demolitions, killing and arrest campaigns, and forced displacement in the West Bank."

Meanwhile, he added, "racist and armed gangs of settlers persisted with their crimes against the Palestinian people, the land, mosques, churches, properties and olive trees."

He mentioned the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager who was burned alive in July. The incident, he said, was the product of a "culture of racism, incitement and hatred" in Israel.

Israel also "breached an agreement with the American administration regarding the release of a group of Palestinian prisoners in the occupation’s jails – and we continue to insist on releasing all of them."

Jerusalem's position is clear, he said: "Israel refuses to end its occupation of the State of Palestine since 1967."

He also accused the Israeli government of attempting to undermine the Palestinian Authority and its efforts to build Palestinian institutions, listing Jerusalem's opposition to the Fatah-Hamas unity government.

He stated that the Palestinians do not intend to "return to the cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question.

"There is neither credibility nor seriousness in negotiations in which Israel predetermines the results via its settlement activities and the occupation’s brutality," he added.

Resolution, but no deadline

Abbas further called for "a comprehensive, credible" strategy against terrorism - including what he called Israeli "state terrorism."

"It is an urgent matter that requires much more than condemnations and declarations of positions, which are of course necessary," he said. "…It requires, in this context and as a priority, bringing an end to the Israeli occupation of our country, which constitutes in its practices and perpetuation, an abhorrent form of state terrorism and a breeding ground for incitement, tension and hatred."

In his speech, Abbas introduced a resolution, to be submitted to the UN Security Council, aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli occupation.

"This endeavor aspires to correct the deficiency of the previous efforts to achieve peace by affirming the goal of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the two-state solution, of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory occupied in 1967, alongside the State of Israel and reaching a just and agreed upon solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees on the basis of resolution 194, with a specific timeframe for the implementation of these objectives as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative.

"This will be linked to the immediate resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel to demarcate the borders, reach a detailed and comprehensive agreement and draft a peace treaty between them."

Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz after the speech that Abbas sought to avoid a confrontation with the U.S. over the resolution, which is why he did not set a specific timeframe, but only demanded that one be set. The decision was evidently made after Abbas met several world leaders at the UN, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

One senior Palestinian official said that the Palestinian delegation was aware of the U.S.' intention to veto any such unilateral move, should it garner a majority at the Security Council.

The Associated Press contributed to the report

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