At UN, Abbas Gives Israel One-year Ultimatum

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Mahmoud Abbas, President, State of Palestine delivers a speech remotely at the UN General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City, on Friday.
Mahmoud Abbas, President, State of Palestine delivers a speech remotely at the UN General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City, on Friday.Credit: POOL/ REUTERS

President Mahmoud Abbas used his UN General Assembly address on Friday to warn that the Palestinian Authority would reverse its recognition of the 1967 borders and push to press charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court if the country did not withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem within one year.

In his pre-recorded speech, Abbas said that he is "ready to work throughout this year on the delineation of borders and solving all final status issues under the auspices of the international Quartet and in accordance with United Nations resolutions. If this is not achieved, why maintain recognition of Israel based on the 1967 borders?"

Referring to the Oslo Agreement, Abbas said Palestinians "remained committed to all of its elements to this day," whereas "Israel has not honored its obligations under the signed agreements and has evaded participating in peace initiatives and instead pursued its expansionist, colonial enterprise, destroying the prospect of a political settlement based on the two-state solution."

He also thanked the international community for their financial support of the Palestinian people but argued that they had to "take tangible steps to revive hope and end the Israeli occupation of our land," after stating that Israel is "practicing apartheid" and "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians.

On the topic of Israel's new coalition government, Abbas said the "current and former governments have persisted in evading the two-State solution" and instead insisted on "presenting illusionary economic and security plans as an alternative."

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is set to speak at the United Nations in New York on Monday, September 27. He has previously ruled out meeting his Palestinian counterpart, as long as Abbas continues to seek pressing charges against Israel in the Hague. 

Abbas called on the international community to press Israel to facilitate elections for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the issue cited by Abbas when he cancelled the elections in June.

"We are committed to the unity of our people and land and to holding legislative and presidential elections and to the Palestinian National Council as soon as holding such elections in Jerusalem is guaranteed as per signed agreements," the president said. 

"I am glad to reaffirm that the coming months will witness the holding of municipal elections in accordance with the law, and elections for all unions and universities are underway," he added.

Following Abbas' postponement of elections, as well as the general crackdown on Palestinian political dissident, in particular the killing of Nizar Banat by Palestinian security forces, the president's popularity has plummeted to new lows. A recent poll found that 78 percent of Palestinians think that he should resign as president. 

New Hope lawmaker Zvi Hauser, who is part of the coalition government, responded to Abbas's speech: "The Palestinians initiated the complaint in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Netanyahu chose to look away and continue collaborating with the Palestinians on economic and security matters."

He added that instead of taking action against the Palestinians, "Netanyahu made a strategic mistake by trying to take action against The Hague. Inevitably, the time has come to fix the mistakes of the past and to directly confront the Palestinians about the issue of the International Court." 

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