Abbas spokesman says he’s ‘ready for historic compromise’

Nabil Abu Rudeineh asserts solution must include capital in East Jerusalem, end to settlement activity

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after delivering a speech at Cooper Union in New York, September 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Jason DeCrow)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after delivering a speech at Cooper Union in New York, September 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Jason DeCrow)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is ready for a historic compromise for peace, his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said on Monday.

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fiery response to Abbas’s UN speech last week in which the PA leader accused Israel of conducting a “war of genocide” in Gaza, Abu Rudeineh said that the solution must be based on UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, Israel Radio reported.

He also said the solution would have to include a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem, an immediate end to settlement activity, and the lifting of the blockade in Gaza.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu compared his country’s recent bombing campaign in Gaza to the US-led strikes against militants in Iraq and Syria, saying Hamas and the Islamic State group share the same goal of world domination.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu accused Hamas of committing “the real war crimes” in Gaza by using Palestinian civilians as human shields.

Netanyahu railed against world leaders who have condemned Israel for its war with Hamas, while praising US President Barack Obama for attacking Islamic State militants and other extremists in Syria and Iraq.

On the latest war in Gaza, Netanyahu questioned how Israel can be accused of genocide when it gave advance warning to Gaza civilians before attacks on neighborhoods.

Holding up an image of what he said was a Hamas rocket launcher with children nearby, he said Hamas hid rockets in schools and homes and used civilians as human shields.

Israel “was doing everything to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize civilian casualties,” he said.

In his speech Friday, Abbas stopped short of saying he would pursue war crimes charges against Israel. He said he would ask the UN Security Council to dictate the ground rules for any talks with Israel, including setting a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands.

Earlier Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said it’s clear that Abbas has no intention of making peace with Israel, calling his speech to world leaders last week “a message of hatred and incitement.”

Liberman also questioned Abbas’s legitimacy to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, saying he doesn’t control the Gaza Strip, where Hamas remains in charge of security and elections have been postponed for more than four years.

Liberman said Abbas has “lost his way.”

Mohammed Ishtayeh, an aide to Abbas, responded to Liberman’s comments, saying: “If Liberman and his government seek peace, why are they building settlements on our land? They left no land without settlements, no land for the Palestinians to live in.”

Ishtayeh added: “Liberman was trying to cover the war crimes his government committed in Gaza, but we have prepared the indictment list to take Israel to the ICC,” using the acronym for the International Criminal Court.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries, has been lobbying Abbas to seek membership in international agencies, including the ICC. That would open the door to war-crimes charges against Israel for its military actions in Gaza and Jewish settlement construction on West Bank land the Palestinians want for a future state.

However, Abbas’s speech last week made no mention of a bid to join the International Criminal Court or a deadline for ending the occupation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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