Israel Embarks on Diplomatic Offensive in Response to Abbas' Speech

Netanyahu, Kerry meet upon Israeli PM's arrival in U.S.; Israeli diplomats told to encourage allies to issue statements condemning Abbas’ UN speech.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife, Sara, at Ben-Gurion Airport before boarding flight to New York, September 28, 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife, Sara, at Ben-Gurion Airport before boarding flight to New York, September 28, 2014.Credit: Avi Ohayon, GPO
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for dinner Sunday evening after arriving in New York earlier that day. During the meal, the two discussed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech Friday to the UN General Assembly. Netanyahu expressed his objections to the Palestinian president's remarks.

A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu’s speech to the General Assembly, scheduled for Monday afternoon, would include a “razor-sharp” response to Abbas’ speech. Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have instructed Israeli diplomatic delegations around the world to encourage foreign ministries and presidents’ and prime ministers’ offices in various countries to issue statements condemning Abbas’ speech.

Lieberman, who also arrived in New York Sunday, met with the foreign ministers of Austria, Rwanda, Greece, and the Czech Republic, protesting Abbas’ speech. Lieberman told his counterparts that the speech had made Abbas irrelevant in terms of the attempt to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

In his address to the UNGA, Abbas charged that Israel had conducted "a war of genocide" in Gaza. With memories of the Nazi holocaust still fresh in Israel, use of the word "genocide" is regarded as particularly provocative.

The 50-day war between Israel and Hamas-led Islamic militants ended Aug. 26. It killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 72 on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers.

Netanyahu said Saturday that his speech at the General Assembly would focus on responding to Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Abbas, accusing both of them of deception and incitement.

"After a deceptive speech by the Iranian president and an inciting speech by Abu-Mazen (Abbas) I will tell the truth of the Israeli citizens to the whole world," Netanyahu said in a statement issued on Saturday.

"In my speech in front of the UNGA and in all of my meetings, I will represent Israel's citizens, and repel, in their name, the lies and slander thrown at our country," he said.

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