Abbas' UN Speech Reflects Netanyahu's Failure on Peace, Says Meretz Leader

Meanwhile, left-wing lawmaker Eitan Cabel condemns the speech, along with Prime Minister Netanyahu's Office and the U.S. State Department.

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Zahava Gal-On. January 15, 2014.
Zahava Gal-On. January 15, 2014.Credit: Michal Fattal

While Prime Minister Netanyahu's Office and the U.S. State Department slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' UNGA speech on Friday, Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On says the speech reflects Netanyahu's failure in the peace process.

In the speech, Abbas accused Israel 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. He 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.

"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. "We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment," he added.

On Saturday, Gal-On said the speech reflects "a total lack of faith on the Palestinian side in Netanyahu as a partner for negotiations and peace." Gal-On said this was not surprising, given that for five years the prime minister has demonstrated "diplomatic refusal."

She said that this year's U.S.-brokered peace talks were a "negotiation to nowhere," during which time "wild" construction in the settlements continued. Even now, Netanyahu wants to "manage the conflict" rather than solve it, she said. Gal-On added that Meretz supports Abbas' international efforts to end the occupation and secure international recognition for Palestine as a member of the UN, even before peace is secured - and even as a path to peace.

Another left-wing lawmaker, Labor MK Eitan Cabel was far more critical of the speech. "Abbas' remarks are false and outrageous," Cabel said Saturday, adding that, "they are worthy of condemnation by any true seeker of peace." He said that even if Abbas has "interior political needs that oblige him to wink at Hamas, there is no justification for such remarks."

He added that the "disappointing" speech strengthens those who reject peace, and that he hopes Netanyahu doesn't use it cynically, but instead begins "a serious diplomatic process which is the only chance of bringing quiet to our region."

On Friday, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki issued a short statement blasting the Palestinian leader's remarks.

"Abbas' speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject," reads the statement, as provided by an Associated Press correspondent. "Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties."

Senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office called the speech "full of lies and incitement," and said it showed Abbas' disinterest in promoting peace.

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