Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greets delegates after addressing the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US, September 20, 2017. .
(photo credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)
In a speech at the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed support for the two-state solution, but said if such a solution were no longer possible, the Palestinians would seek equal rights in one state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
“Our choice is the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, and we will grant every chance for the efforts being undertaken by President Donald Trump and the Quartet and international community as a whole to achieve a historic agreement that brings the two-state solution to reality,” Abbas said on Wednesday.
“But If the two-state solution were to be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems – apartheid – from the unchecked imposition of this occupation that is rejected by our people and the world, this would be a failure, and neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine,” he said.
Abbas has previously threatened to dissolve the PA if the peace process fails, but has not in recent memory proposed a one-state solution as an alternative to two-states. Some of the PA president’s advisers such as chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, however, have raised the possibility of a one-state solution in the past year.
Over the past several weeks, Abbas has called on the Trump administration to endorse the two-state solution.
Trump told Abbas in a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that there is a “very good chance” of achieving a peace deal and that he will “devote everything” in his heart to realizing it, but did not iterate support for a two-state solution.
Abbas also called on the international community to take action to end Israel’s military rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“Actively pursue efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the state of Palestine within a set timeframe,” the 83-year-old Palestinain leader said. “It is no longer enough to issue generic, endless statements calling for an end to the occupation and the achievement of peace without a deadline.”
Since the failure of US-led negotiations in 2011, the Palestinians have turned to international organizations to challenge Israel’s military rule. While they have achieved different forms of membership in various bodies, they have failed to roll back Israel’s military rule.
In a press conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in August, PA PM Rami Hamdallah expressed his frustration that the UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have not been implemented.
Some of the moves Abbas said the international community could undertake to pressure Israel to end its military rule include recognizing the State of Palestine, accepting the State of Palestine as a full UN member and boycotting settlements. Israel strongly opposes all of these moves; it says they encourage the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations with it.
Abbas also expressed his satisfaction with Egyptian-led efforts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas.
“I must express my relief at the agreement reached in Cairo as a result of Egyptian efforts. We are thankful for these efforts aimed at nullifying the measures undertaken by Hamas following the division,” Abbas said.
Last week, following a number of meetings with Egyptian intelligence officials, Hamas agreed to dissolve its governing body in Gaza, allow the West Bank-based PA government to take over in its place and hold presidential and legislative elections.
Since Hamas ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from Gaza in 2007, it has controlled the government there.
Abbas noted that the PA would go to Gaza at the end of next week to take over the government there. It is not clear if the Hamas will permit the PA take full responsibility for Gaza including its security sector. In previous reconciliation attempts, Hamas invited the PA to take responsibility for Gaza, but rebuffed its efforts to take security control in the small territory.