PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the
government, accusing it of pursuing a “policy of war, occupation and settlement
colonization” and rejecting the two-state solution.
He also declared that
he had begun intensive consultations with various regional organizations and UN
member states aimed at having the General Assembly adopt a resolution granting a
Palestinian state the status of non-member.
Abbas’s statements came
during a fiery speech he delivered at the opening of the General Assembly’s 67th
session in New York.
“Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new
catastrophe, a new nakba,” the PA president declared.
Abbas began his
speech by referring to the “catastrophic danger of the racist Israeli settlement
of our country, Palestine.” He claimed that in recent months, “attacks by
terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality.”
the PA continued to believe in negotiations with Israel, he said, and “there is
still a chance – maybe the last – to save the two-state solution and to salvage
Abbas said his renewed statehood bid was not aimed at
delegitimizing Israel, “but rather to assert that the state of Palestine must be
The Palestinians, Abbas told the General Assembly, “are facing
relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and
monasteries, and our homes and schools; they are unleashing their venom against
our trees, fields, crops and properties, and 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 accused Israel of
carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against Arab residents of Jerusalem by
demolishing their homes and denying them basic services. He also accused Israel
of preventing “millions of Palestinians from freely accessing Jerusalem mosques,
churches, schools, hospitals and markets.”
The PA president called on the
international community to investigate the conditions of some 5,000 Palestinian
prisoners held in Israeli jails. “They are soldiers in their people’s
struggle for freedom, independence and peace,” he said.
In his speech,
Abbas complained that Israeli restrictions and security measures were aimed at
weakening the PA, undermining its ability to carry out its functions and to
implement its obligations.
The stalemate in the peace process had led to
one conclusion – “that the Israeli government rejects the two-state solution,”
he said. Israel’s official positions “reveal to us small enclaves surrounded by
large Israeli settlement blocs and walls, checkpoints and vast security zones
and roads devoted to settlers,” he continued.
“Despite our real feelings
of anger and disappointment,” the Palestinians remain committed to peace and
nonviolence, Abbas said. He affirmed his rejection of terrorism in all its
forms, “particularly state terrorism.”
US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton expressed opposition to Abbas’s actions seeking an upgrade of
Palestinian status at the UN during a meeting with the PA president Wednesday,
according to a senior State Department official.
“We have made very clear
that our goal is to resume direct talks and that the idea of going to the UN is
not the road that takes us there,” said the official, who briefed reporters
following the meeting between Clinton and Abbas in New York ahead of the PA
president’s UN speech.
Clinton also noted American concern for the
economic challenges the Palestinian Authority was facing in the West
“We are looking at every means we can to help the Palestinian
Authority meet these financial challenges,” the State Department official said,
pointing particularly to efforts to work with Congress on securing
Peace Now executive-director Yariv Oppenheimer said Abbas’s speech
might not have been pleasant for Israelis to hear, “but the situation is not
pleasant.” He added, “I hope it won’t be the last time that we will hear
a Palestinian leader calling out for peace with Israel and calling out for a
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish
Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said Abbas, a Holocaust
denier, had delivered a speech that was “the cry of the Cossack who was
“It was filled with hatred against Israel and its people. When
this is the man who stands in front of us – a liar, a hater and an inciter – the
last thing that is needed is to award him with a state,” Dayan
said.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.