Abbas: Internationalization of Conflict to Persist Unless Israel Changes Course

In speech marking Nakba Day, Palestinian president says popular struggle against occupation will continue, presents three conditions to resume peace talks.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.Credit: AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that if Israel persists in ignoring the Palestinian issue, the Palestinians will proceed with internationalizing the conflict, including turning to the International Criminal Court.

In a speech marking Nakba Day, one day after Israel's new government was sworn in, Abbas said that "if this government continues with the same conduct we've witnessed in recent years, we'll proceed with the internationalization of the conflict, with all the repercussions such a move entails."

The Palestinian president said that the popular struggle against the occupation will continue, in addition to efforts to expose Israel's actions, especially continued settlement activity and Israel's "crimes" in last summer's war in Gaza, to the international community and the ICC.

Abbas also said that the Palestinians will not resume peace negotiations unless Israel agrees to three basic conditions: Freeze settlement construction in the West Bank; release Palestinians imprisoned in Israel since before the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s; and agree to hold negotiations lasting one year, by the end of which a timetable would be set to end the occupation by 2017.

According to Abbas, Israel has yet to understand that peace cannot be reached with the occupation still in place. "The Palestinian people will not give up its land or its rights," he said. "What happened in 1948 will never happen again," he added, referring to the Arab-Israeli war which saw the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Israel.

Palestinians were marking Nakba Day on Friday with parades across the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Inside Israel, only one event is set to be held – a parade organized by the Islamic Movement on the ruins of the Palestinian village of Ijzim, south of Haifa. The main event marking the Nakba by Israeli Arabs was a parade on the ruins of the village of Al-Haditha on Independence Day last month.

Meanwhile, shortly after the Knesset voted to confirm Israel's new government on Thursday night, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the prospect of the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems distant.

Speaking from Camp David, Obama said he continues to believe that a "two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state," AFP reported.

"I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don't necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise," he said, AFP reported.

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