Abbas Lambasts Israel, US and International Community’s ‘Double Standards’ During UNGA Speech
The Palestinian Authority president accused Israel of intentionally obstructing progress toward a two-state solution
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas unleashed a barrage of attacks on Israel, the United Nations, and the international community, including the United States, for failing to help reach a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
In a speech laden with criticism, Abbas on Friday told the United Nations General Assembly that Israel is no longer a “partner” for peace, accusing it of intentionally obstructing progress toward a two-state solution “through its premeditated and deliberate policies, destroying the two-state solution.”
He enumerated a long list of grievances, saying that Israel has acted with “total impunity” against people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and that Palestinians’ trust in the prospects for peace is “regressing.”
“Our confidence in achieving peace based on justice and international law is, unfortunately, waning because of Israel’s occupation policies,” Abbas said, calling Israel an “apartheid regime.”
The PA president added that Israel has destroyed the Oslo agreement and seeks to destroy the two-state solution, “and there is no longer an Israeli partner to talk to.”
“Israel has left us nothing of the land to establish our state,” he added, calling on the international community to treat Israel as an “occupying state.”
The Israeli delegation vacated its seats before the PA president took to the podium.
I thought it was a confirmation that this specific leadership has expired, it’s out of touch with reality, and dwelling on issues which are historical fact but presenting them at a forum which knows these facts but refuses to act on them
Abbas called on Israel to resume negotiations immediately, 24 hours after Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid affirmed his support for Palestinian statehood, telling the same forum that it is in Israel’s interest, a concept that has disappeared from the Israeli politician’s agenda in the last decade.
“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy, and for the future of our children,” Lapid told the General Assembly on Thursday.
Abbas said Lapid’s call for a two-state solution was a “positive development” but said the proof would be a return to negotiations.
“The true test of the credibility and seriousness of this stance is for the Israeli government to return to the negotiation table immediately,” he said
US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides told The Media Line that he has “enormous amounts of respect” for the prime minister. Nides called Lapid’s speech at the UNGA a “brave” one. “We hope over the long term that we can get to where we need to be which is a two-state solution, ‘67 borders, and the ability to have the two-state solution not only a vision but a reality of the two-state solution for the Palestinian and Israeli people,” Nides said.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan responded to Abbas in a tweet on Friday, saying that it was the Palestinians who had rejected peace plans in the past.
Abbas’s speech was “a lie-filled rant completely detached from reality,” according to Erdan.
“President Abbas uses the UN as a platform to incite hatred against Israel while glorifying the terrorists that he himself funds,” Erdan said in a statement after the Palestinian leader praised jailed Palestinians.
Abbas told the UNGA that Israel has been engaged in a campaign of land grabbing and was giving its military “total freedom” to kill or otherwise use excessive force against Palestinians.
“This is the truth: they are an apartheid regime,” the 87-year-old PA president said, using a comparison that enraged Israel.
He lambasted the international community’s “double standards” when it comes to the Palestinians, demanding that it hold Israel accountable for “the massacres they have committed,” accusing the United Nations and its more powerful members, particularly the United States, of “protecting Israel.”
Ramallah-based Palestinian-American business consultant Sam Bahour told The Media Line that repeating what Abbas told the UNGA year after year is “not getting the results.”
“Palestinians are depressed, that this speech didn’t show the resilience, the resistance that exists on the ground and a new generation completely detached from his [Abbas] approach which is a mild begging for the international community to act. The younger generation is much more involved in making facts on the ground to force the international community to come to its senses and uphold its obligation,” Bahour said.
He says the nearly 50-minute speech failed to address major Palestinian demands.
“I thought it [the speech] was a confirmation that this specific leadership has expired, it’s out of touch with reality, and dwelling on issues which are historical fact but presenting them at a forum which knows these facts but refuses to act on them,” he said.
Bahour says the speech lacked “any type of strategy on the Palestinian side,” adding that Abbas didn’t need to address the same points in the same forum year after year.
Bahour argues that this is why the Palestinians are in need of political change.
“It needed more decisions, a strategy, and maybe the first of that being him [Abbas] resigning and opening the door for a new Palestinian leadership to emerge; lacking that, it needed a decision on what to do given that this international community refuses to hold Israel accountable,” he said.
Abbas reiterated the Palestinian position that Israel be brought before the International Criminal Court so that it is forced to “shoulder its legal, political, moral and financial responsibilities.”
“He could have revoked or suspended the Palestinian recognition of the state of Israel until such time that Israel is ready to have a reciprocal recognition with the state of Palestine,” said Bahour.
“That was a strategic flaw at the beginning of the Oslo talks,” he added.
Hasan Awwad, a US-based Palestinian affairs expert, told The Media Line that Abbas is “powerless,” and a speech is all he can do right now.
“He affirmed his determination to go to the UNGA to demand a referendum on a full membership of Palestine,” but Awwad acknowledges that Abbas’ request will most likely face a Western veto.
“He knows the US and Europe won’t allow for such thing to pass, but he also needs to appease his base by talking about the issue,” he said.
The Palestinian street is divided on itself regarding the speech; it didn’t seem to unify them. Some, like Hamza Ammar, gave it a thumbs up. The Ramallah resident told The Media Line that he thought it was “appropriate, and a comprehensive and clear speech that expresses everything we need to say. Thank you, Mr. President!”
“Personally, I think that the president’s speech at the United Nations today is one of the most important speeches I have heard from him in a while,” said Ammar.
Others like Rana Hamodeh from Jenin called Abbas’ speech “emotional,” and described it as a “recycled” speech with nothing new in it. She told The Media Line that “Abbas and the PA status continues to deteriorate,” as a result of his failed leadership, adding that the speech “didn’t do it for her.”
In his address to the UN last year, Abbas threatened that he would suspend recognition of Israel if it did not withdraw to pre-1967 borders.