Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused Israel of destroying the prospects for a two-state solution and said he would seek a United Nations Security Council resolution against West Bank settlements.
Speaking before the UN General Assembly in New York ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas squarely blamed the failure of the two-state solution and deadlocked peace efforts on Jerusalem, and said Israeli actions were not those of a state that sought peace.
He called on the Jewish state to cease settlement expansion, “collective punishment and its demolition of Palestinian homes” and “extrajudicial executions and…the arrest of our people,” as well as “aggression and provocations against the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque” on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
He charged that “Israeli aggression against our Muslim and Christian holy sites is playing with fire” and singled out Israel’s “illegal settlement enterprise” for undermining “the realization of the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.”
“I am compelled to again warn that what the Israeli government is doing in pursuit of its expansionist settlement plans will destroy whatever possibility and hopes are left for the two-state solution on the 1967 borders,” he told the UN General Assembly, “for all of these policies and practices prevent an environment in which peace can be realized in our region.”
Abbas said 2017 should be the year that marks the end of “Israeli occupation of our land and our people.”
He said the Palestinians recognized Israel’s existence in 1993, with the signing of the Oslo accords, but added that “Israel must reciprocate with recognition of the State of Palestine and an end to its occupation of the land, so that the State of Palestine can coexist alongside the State of Israel in peace and security and as good neighbors, each within secure and recognized borders.”
“We remain committed to the agreements reached with Israel since 1993. However, Israel must reciprocate this commitment and must act forthwith to resolve all of the final status issues,” he said.
“We will not accept the continuation of the prevailing situation.”
The PA president said that those who “support a two-state solution should recognize both states, and not just one of them.”
He said he would seek a Security Council resolution denouncing the settlements and Israeli violence, and, in a remark apparently pointed at the United States, said he hoped “no one will cast a veto.”
“We respect the Jewish religion and condemn the catastrophe that befell the Jewish people in World War II in Europe, and view it as one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against humanity,” he said. Israeli recognition of the Nakba — the Palestinian term for the 1948 Israeli War of Independence — would “open a new era of coexistence and will serve to build bridges rather than walls.”
Turning to the United Kingdom, Abbas called for an apology for the Balfour Declaration, Britain’s 1917 statement of commitment to found a Jewish state in Palestine. He said London should “draw the necessary lessons and bear its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibilities for the consequences of [the Balfour] Declaration, including an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, miseries and injustices that it created, and to act to rectify this historic catastrophe and remedy its consequences, including by recognition of the State of Palestine.”
He added that while Palestinians sought peace, he doubted there was a partner for a deal in Israel.
“Is there any leadership in Israel, the occupying power, that desires to make a true peace and that will abandon the mentality of hegemony, expansionism and colonization, and that will recognize the rights of our people and will end the historic injustice inflicted upon them?” he asked.