Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned of “the catastrophic danger of the racist Israeli settlement of our country, Palestine,” in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
In a sprawling and direct speech at the UN, Abbas, President of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, described persistent Israeli crimes in the occupied West Bank and called for an end to what he described as “a campaign of ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes,” and their potential to eliminate Palestine and any chance for peaceful settlement.
“Israel, the occupying Power, has persisted with its settlement campaign,” Abbas said, which is “a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes and prevention of their construction; the revocation of residency rights; the denial of basic services, especially with regard to construction of school; the closure of institutions; and the impoverishment of Jerusalem’s community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are choking the City and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and markets.”
“During the past months,” Abbas continued, “attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of this year,” adding that “our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli Government.”
Abbas called on the international community to “compel” Israel “to respect the Geneva Conventions, to lift the blockade of Gaza and to investigate the conditions of detention of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, stressing the need for their release.”
Abbas put it plainly when he said that there can only be one understanding of Israeli policy: “that the Israeli Government rejects the two-State solution.” Indeed, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party Charter declares Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza “the realization of Zionist values” and that the whole of the West Bank and Jerusalem belong to Israel.
Abbas pointed to the possibilities of peace based on the agreement signed 19 years ago, the Oslo Declaration of Principles, “a compromise by which the Palestinian people accepted to establish their State on only 22% of the territory of historic Palestine for the sake of making peace.”
Israel is pursuing “a policy of war, occupation and settlement colonization,” that “is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe, a new Nakba.”
Abbas cited Palestine’s successful acceptance into the UN agency UNESCO last year as what kind of progress is possible when there is no veto power, indicating the destructive influence of the veto power of the United States at the Security Council, something that has repeatedly prevented a viable peace to the conflict.
Concluding, Abbas said “we do not seek to delegitimize an existing State – that is Israel; but rather to assert the State that must be realized – that is Palestine.”