Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday railed about Israel’s “absolute war crimes” and “genocide” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and said he’d seek a UN resolution to end Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories.
Speaking before the UN General Assembly, Abbas said 2014 was meant to be a year of international solidarity with the Palestinians, but blamed Israel for choosing to make it “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people.” He didn’t go so far as to say he’d pursue prosecuting Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court, however.
Abbas condemned the “unprecedented” destruction in the Gaza Strip following the 50-day conflict fought between Israel and terrorist groups in the Palestinian enclave and charged that Israel committed “absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world.”
The Hamas Health Ministry reports that over 2,100 Gazans were killed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge, but Israel contends that roughly half that figure were combatants. Israel lost 66 soldiers and six civilians. During the 50-day conflict, Gaza-based terrorist groups fired at least 3,360 rockets into Israel, according to IDF figures.
“This war came after long, difficult negotiations for more than eight months under the auspices of the United States and the efforts of President Barack Obama and tenacious efforts of his Secretary of State John Kerry,” Abbas said, referring to the nearly nine-month negotiations which collapsed at the end of April without result.
“We engaged in this endeavor with open minds, in good faith and with a positive spirit and engaged with the efforts of the American administration in the most constructive manner, and we put forth our firm positions based on the resolutions of international legitimacy, which receive the overwhelming support of the nations of the world,” said Abbas.
Whereas the Palestinians “genuinely respected all of our commitments and understandings” and gave the negotiations a chance, however, Abbas charged that Israel “did not miss the opportunity to undermine the chance for peace” and “once again failed the test of peace.”
While calling for an immediate resumption of peace talks to resolve core final status issues, Abbas was deeply pessimistic about prospects for progress in peace talks with Israel in the kind of framework pursued thus far, saying that “it is impossible… to return to the cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question,” namely, the establishment of a Palestinian state inside the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.
“There is neither credibility nor seriousness in negotiations in which Israel predetermines the results via its settlement activities and the occupation’s brutality,” he said, adding that it was impossible to “repeat methods that have proven futile or to continue with approaches that have repeatedly failed and require comprehensive review and radical correction.”
“Israel refuses to end its occupation of the State of Palestine since 1967, but rather seeks its continuation and entrenchment, and rejects the Palestinian state and refuses to find a just solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees,” Abbas said. He added that Israel envisions “isolated ghettos for Palestinians” and repeatedly accused Israel of racist and apartheid policies and aspirations.
“Israel has confirmed during the negotiations that it rejects making peace with its victims, the Palestinian people,” he said. “The time has come to end this settlement occupation.” He said the Palestinians “are actually the ones who need immediate international protection, which we are seeking through international organizations.”
The PA president said that his government and the Arab Group are preparing a draft Security Council resolution which would “push forward the efforts to achieve peace” and “correct the deficiency of the previous efforts to achieve peace by affirming the goal of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the two-state solution” within a timeframe which he didn’t specify.
Earlier reports said he would delineate a three-year timeline for the Israeli withdrawal.
At the same time, Abbas said this unilateral move at the United Nations would “be linked to the immediate resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel to demarcate the borders, reach a detailed and comprehensive agreement and draft a peace treaty between them.”
Tying in one of the hot button issues at the General Assembly, the threat posed by the Islamic State to international security, Abbas said that confronting terrorist groups “such as ‘ISIL’ and others that have no basis whatsoever in the tolerant Islamic religion” requires both military confrontation, condemnation, and a strategy to eliminate their economic and ideological support. He went so far as to connect the fight against the Islamic State to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying “it requires… bringing an end to the Israeli occupation of our country.”
Immediately following Abbas’s speech, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that the PA president demonstrated that “he doesn’t want and cannot be a partner for a logical diplomatic resolution.”
“It’s no coincidence that he joined a [national consensus] government with Hamas,” the foreign minister said, referring to the Fatah-Hamas unity government. “Abbas complements Hamas when he deals with diplomatic terrorism and slanders Israel with false accusations.”
“So long as he’s chairman of the Palestinian Authority he will continue the conflict. He is the continuation of [late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat through different means,” Liberman said.