Our situation is even more dire than apartheid, says PA president

Abbas: Peace process must be multilateral effort

Palestinian leader calls for a change in tactics by international community, looks to UN to end conflict with Israel

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmud Abbas, September 22, 2015. (AFP/POOL/IVAN SEKRETAREV)
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmud Abbas, September 22, 2015. (AFP/POOL/IVAN SEKRETAREV)

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas may call on the international community to push for multilateral peace talks as a new way forward towards a peace deal with Israel in a highly touted address at the United Nations Wednesday.

The contents of the speech, which will reportedly no longer contain a threatened “bombshell,” were hinted at in an article published under Abbas’s name in the Huffington Post website Tuesday.

In the opinion piece, the Palestinian Authority president accused the nations of the world of abandoning the Palestinian people and leaving them to suffer Israeli “ethnic cleansing” that is, he said, worse than apartheid.

“Palestine has languished on the UN agenda since the organization’s inception,” Abbas wrote. “This persistent neglect has cost too many lives, dampened hope, undermined international law and stained the reputation of the UN.”

“The same pattern of negotiations imposed for years will not work because Israel is the occupying power,” he urged. “Israel controls our territory, natural resources, economic affairs and our daily lives, violating every fundamental human right of the Palestinian people. We cannot directly negotiate with a power that has this level of control and exhibits such contempt for the rights and existence of our people.”

“That is why a collective, multilateral peace process is necessary. Such processes have made significant progress in difficult negotiations for the Balkans, Libya and Iran. They should be attempted to decisively end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after all these years of futile attempts to achieve peace.”

“A peaceful, fair and just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict exists,” he said. “But the peace process must be multilateral.”

Abbas urged that the UN “provide a clear plan to end the illegal Israeli occupation, uphold human rights and achieve justice.”

In the run up to the event speculation has mounted that Abbas would rattle relations with Israel by making various bold declarations such as ending the ongoing security coordination with Israel, declaring the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, or announcing his own resignation.

Abbas was scheduled to address the General Assembly at 7 p.m. Israeli time on Wednesday evening.

The speech will be followed by a ceremony marking the raising of the Palestinian flag at the Untied Nations, a highly symbolic move hailed by Ramallah as a milestone in the Palestinians’ drive for statehood.

Critics in Israel, the US and elsewhere have derided the move as unhelpful toward peace efforts, but Abbas in his Huffington Post piece blamed moribund peace talks on “Israel’s pursuit of reckless policies,” a likely reference to Israeli settlement building.

“Israel has failed to negotiate in good faith while entrenching its illegal occupation. Israel is not dedicated to the international community’s values of freedom, justice and peace — let alone the two-state solution and the longstanding parameters underpinning it. It has trampled the Oslo Accords and with it the peace process,” he wrote.

Israel Radio reported on Wednesday that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad had called on Abbas to use the speech to abandon the 1993 Oslo Accords that created the Palestinian Authority and have been the basis for cooperation with Israel ever since. The report cited Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian negotiator, as saying that Abbas knows a one-sided commitment to the accords is pointless.

In the Huffington Post, Abbas accused Israel of imposing a regime that is worse than apartheid.

“Many have compared living in Palestine to apartheid. But our situation is even more dire because Israel, the occupying power, is not only executing a system of segregation and subjugation; it persists with the blatant ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their land.”

Abbas blamed Israel for recent clashes on the Temple Mount during which security forces faced off against rock-throwing Palestinians who, on at one occasion, also prepared pipe bombs which police said were intended to disrupt Jewish visits to the Jerusalem holy site.

“In Occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces and leaders aid extremist attacks and religious zealots’ attempts to assert control over al-Aqsa Mosque and ignite a religious conflict,” Abbas said and charged that Israeli authorities have encouraged violence against Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would use his speech at the UN the day after Abbas to call on the Palestinian Authority to desist from “gross lies” and “wild incitement” over the Temple Mount, saying Israel was committed to the status quo at the holy site.

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