Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Thursday he would cancel all diplomatic agreements with Israel if the next Israeli government carries out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign promise to apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, Abbas slammed Netanyahu for “arrogantly” promising the annexation of the Jordan Valley and Israel’s “colonial settlements,” and warned a religious war could break out over Israel’s policies in Jerusalem.
“We reject entirely and completely this illegal plan. Our response, if any Israeli government is to proceed with this plan, all signed agreements with the government of the occupation and any obligations therein will be terminated.”
Abbas called on the international community to bring an end to “Israeli aggression and arrogance” and enforce UN resolutions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The PA leader also used his platform at the world’s most prominent diplomatic gathering to slam the Trump administration’s policies toward the Palestinians, saying the US could not act as a peace broker in the region.
The Trump administration raised Palestinians’ ire when it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and moved the US embassy there in May last year. It also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid to the Palestinians, citing the PA’s refusal to take part in the administration’s peace initiative.
At the UN, Abbas accused the US of “supporting the Israeli aggression against us,” and said the recognition of Jerusalem was “unlawful.”
“Jerusalem will remain the eternal capital of Palestine regardless of any schemes or actions,” he said.
Trump’s peace plan, he added, “is rejected, is rejected, is rejected.”
The US embrace of Israel, he warned, has deprived “the peace process of any credibility, pushing large segments of the Palestinian people to lose hope in the possibility of long-awaited peace, and jeopardizing the two-state solution.”
He said he remained a supporter of the two-state outcome and called for a multilateral peace conference not dominated by the US.
“We reject any negotiations shepherded by one country. You all know this one country,” he said, referring to the US.
In a message geared to Palestinians back home, he promised the assembled world leaders to call long-delayed general elections in areas that the Palestinians envision as part of a future state as soon as he returns home to Ramallah.
“From the outset, we have believed in democracy as a foundation for the building of our state and society. We have enshrined this in our constitution and exercised this on the ground. We conducted general elections in 1996, 2005 and 2006, in addition to regular local elections,” he said.
He blamed the Hamas terror group’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 for the failure to hold elections since — but promised to hold new ones now.
“I call on the UN and the relevant international organizations to monitor these elections, and I will attribute full responsibility to those who may attempt to prevent it from happening on the date determined,” he said, an apparent warning to Hamas to allow the elections to take place in Gaza as well.
Abbas also vowed to keep paying stipends to the families of Palestinian security prisoners in Israel and slain terrorists.
Israel has withheld tax funds to the PA equal to the amount the PA spends on the stipends, a move that led the PA to reject all Israeli transfers of Palestinian tax moneys to PA coffers, sparking a severe cash crunch in recent months.
“We are confident that the international community will not accept Israel’s arbitrary decision to withhold our revenues, and to confiscate a part of it,” he said, adding the Israeli action was “deepening the suffering of our people.”
He concluded by praising those terrorists, calling them, “our honorable martyrs, courageous prisoners and wounded heroes.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, responded to the speech Thursday by accusing Abbas of preferring “to invest more in the PA’s efforts against Israel at the UN than in the fight against incitement and terrorism in the PA under his leadership. The applause that accompanied his remarks about paying salaries to terrorists is the legacy he will leave behind.”