Abbas at UN: Israel Is Not a Partner for Peace, It's Working to Destroy Two-state Solution

Acknowledging Lapid's UN speech on Thursday, Abbas says Israel should return to negotiations with Palestinians to show its commitment to a two-state solution

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on Friday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on Friday.Credit: Julia Nikhinson/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday, saying that the possibility of reaching a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is regressing due to Israel's actions. He requested that the international community hold Israel accountable for its actions.

In his introduction, he said that he represents the more than 14 million people who are descendants of those who lived through the Nakba, the Palestinian term for when more than 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1947-49 Israeli War of Independence. He described the event as a "humiliation for all humanity, especially for those who conspired, planned and carried out this heinous crime."

In his speech, he condemned settlement expansion and recalled the cases of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the Palestinian prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid, who suffers from cancer.

Israel has undermined the Oslo Accords, he said, and is "destroying the two-state solution, which proves with conclusive evidence that they do not believe in peace, but in the policy of imposing a fait accompli by brute force and aggression, and therefore there is no longer an Israeli partner with whom to talk."

This, he said, "is making the relationship between Palestine and Israel the relationship between an occupying state and an occupied people. Therefore, We will not deal with Israel except on this basis, and we demand the international community to deal with it on this basis as well."

He continued, "Israel is carrying out a frantic campaign to confiscate our lands and plant them in colonial settlements and plunder our resources, as if this land is empty and has no owners, just as it did in 1948. It is also unleashing the hand of the army and terrorist settlers who are killing our Palestinian people in broad daylight, stealing their lands and water, burning and demolishing their homes, and forcing them to pay the price for the demolition, or force them to demolish it with their own hands and uproot their trees, all with official protection."

Furthermore, he said, "the Israeli government has authorized Jewish terrorism and terrorist organizations against our people, calling to expel them from their homes." He called for the international community to blacklist the Hilltop Youth, the price tag groups, Lahava and the Temple Trustees group.

He also accused Israel of "targeting holy sites, Christian and Muslim, especially in Jerusalem," and attacking "funeral processions in the holy sites." In addition, he said that Israel is "imposing a falsified curriculum in our schools in occupied Jerusalem."

Israel is "killing people with impunity, as it did with Shireen Abu Akleh," he said, referring to the Al Jazeera journalist who the Israeli military says was likely killed by one of its soldiers by accident during clashes with Palestinian militants.

"Israel has racist laws and is establishing apartheid," he said. "They are an apartheid regime. They are doing this with total impunity. Why aren't they being held accountable by international law? Who is protecting them?" he asked. "The United Nations protects them, and on top of this, the most powerful nations in the United Nations. Why are there these double standards? Why aren't we treated equally?"

"Israel, since its founding, has committed heinous crimes against our people," he said. They have destroyed 529 villages, expelling their dwellings during and after the war of 1948," he said. He accused Israel of committing more than 50 massacres since its founding, "the most recent massacre" against Gaza, which he said Israel targeted with missiles. "They launched missiles and used tanks to kill children," he said.

Abbas said that the Palestinians will go to the International Criminal Court "and all the courts of the world and ask Israel to be held accountable."

"Does Israel wish to remain a colonizing people forever?" He asked, "Should we wait a century, or two centuries?" before claiming that the Palestinians are "the only people on this planet living under occupation."

He said that Palestine will no longer be the only party abiding to the Oslo Accords. "Those agreements are not valid anymore as a result of the persistent violations by Israel. Although we ask them to end the occupation, hostile policies and unilateral actions according to the Oslo Accords," Israel was the first to violate them, he said.

"Therefore, it is our right – rather our obligation – to look for other means to cover our rights to achieve a peace built on justice," he said.

The United Nations have adopted hundreds of resolutions on Palestine, he said. "None have been implemented. Not a single resolution has been implemented." He added, "Implement a single one and tell us it was implemented. We want the implementation of a single resolution, and right now."

He invoked Resolution 181 and 194 – the original partition plan for Palestine from 1948 and the resolution stipulating that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

Palestine will start the accession process to the United Nations, he said, to become a full member of the organization, as well as to receive membership from several other international organizations. If they are prevented from full membership and if practical measures are not taken to end the occupation, the Palestinian Authority will return to the General Assembly.

"We have tried everything to convince Israel to return to negotiations, but Israel refused and still refuses. With all due respect to the international community and its efforts, despite what they have done and continue to do to support us, it is unfortunately unable to end the occupation and end Israeli heinous aggression.

"We will not resort to weapons. We will not resort to violence, and we will not resort to terrorism. We will fight terrorism hand-in-hand, but protect us from violence, like you do for other occupied peoples of this world," he said. He accused the United States of "pretending to uphold human rights and international law while providing Israel with unlimited support and protecting it from accountability."

The United States, the United Kingdom and Israel bear responsibility for the plight of the Palestinian people, he said, due to "being partners in adopting the decisions that led to the Nakba," namely the Balfour declaration and the British Mandate.

"We officially ask the U.S., the U.K. and Israel to recognize their responsibility for this major crime committed against our people, to apologize, and we ask for a remedy and compensation to be decided by international law."

He continued, "These countries call for a two-state solution and recognize Israel, but where is the other state? Well, it exists, it is there, so recognize it so that peace can be upheld."

In his speech to the General Assembly on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed his support for the two-state solution. "An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel's security, for Israel's economy and for the future of our children," he said.

He continued that the one condition Israel has for such a partnership is that "a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being, and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times."

Abbas acknowledged Lapid's talk of the two-state solution, calling it a positive step. "The true test for the credibility of this task is to go back to negotiations based on the Arab Peace Initiative immediately," he said. Israel must then cease all unilateral measures that endanger the two-state solution.

After saying that Palestine is committed to peace and fighting terrorism, he said that "we are ready for the initiative." He paid tribute in his speech to "the martyrs of the Palestinian people" who will "remain symbols to be remembered by the coming generations," along with the prisoners, who are the "living conscience of our people. I would like to pay tribute to them as living martyrs," he said.

"We have waited too long. We are tired," he concluded. "Do you have a solution? I need a solution."

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