Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the United Nations where he accused Israel of committing war crimes in its assault on Gaza and called for the body to set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of all Israelis from the occupied territories.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has called on the United Nations security council to support a resolution setting a clear deadline for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories as he in effect declared the US-sponsored Oslo peace process over.
In a hard-hitting speech to the UN general assembly in New York, he also accused Israel of “war crimes carried out before the eyes of the world” during the recent 50-day Gaza war that ended in a ceasefire on 26 August, adding that Israel had “perpetrated genocide”.
“We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment,” Abbas declared. Palestinian officials were expected to start working with members of the security council to seek backing for a resolution setting a timeframe for the ending of what he called the “racist and colonial” occupation – a resolution certain to be opposed by the US.
In some of his strongest language to date, Abbas declared that the American-backed Israel-Palestinian peace process, which has dragged on for two decades, was dead, saying it was “impossible to return to negotiations”.
He said: “It is impossible, and I repeat – it is impossible – to return to the whirlwind cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question.
“There is neither credibility nor seriousness in negotiations in which Israel predetermines the results via its settlement activities and the occupation’s brutality.
“ There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian territory occupied in the 1967 war.
“And, there is no value in negotiations which are not linked to a firm timetable for the implementation of this goal.”
Instead, he accused Israel of planning “ghettos for Palestinians on fragmented land, without borders and without sovereignty over its airspace, water and natural resources, which will be under the subjugation of the racist settlers and army of occupation, and at worst will be a most abhorrent form of apartheid”.
Abbas has long been seen as willing to let the US and Israel drag out the ‘peace talks’ that have enabled Israel to expand and entrench its occupation and his more aggressive stance at the UN has infuriated the US and Israel.
The official US reaction described the was comments as “offensive and deeply disappointing”.
State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties.”
Abbas’s speech drew a furious response from senior Israeli officials, with foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman describing it as “diplomatic terrorism”.
However Abbas has still not taken the key steps to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court.
More and more people are coming to the conclusion that a two-state solution is increasingly untenable. Patricia Marks Greenfield is yet another person calling for a one-state, secular democratic nation.
The cut-off nature of the Gaza Strip means that, geographically, Gaza is, in reality, a part of Israel, while continuing Israeli settlement on the West Bank means that Israel has made itself part of Palestine. Gaza and the West Bank may be separated from each other, but they are not separated from Israel. Given this reality, Gaza and the West Bank must inevitably become part of Israel; there can be no two-state solution. And Israel must leave behind its official Jewish identity to acknowledge its multiethnic, multireligious character by providing equal treatment for all.
If Gaza and the West Bank were truly part of Israel, and Israel were truly a multiethnic, secular society, there would be progress toward peace. The “right of return” championed by Arabs would have new meaning: It would no longer mean the transfer of Israeli land. Instead it would mean the opportunity to live in Israel as fully equal citizens, with all of the privileges from and obligations to the Israeli nation. Internal equality and external peace are two sides of the same coin.
But this will be a hard sell. Jewish nationalists in Israel, like religious zealots everywhere, bitterly oppose the idea of secular states. They want their religion to be the ruling one, even if it leads to perpetual sectarian conflict.