Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the latest Israeli overture for direct talks and called instead for a multilateral peace process on the eve of his major address to the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.
“The peace process must be multilateral. The same pattern of negotiations imposed for years will not work, because Israel is the occupying power,” Abbas said in an opinion piece published Tuesday on the Huffington Post website.
“Israel controls our territory, natural resources, economic affairs and our daily lives, violating every fundamental human right of the Palestinian people. We cannot directly negotiate with a power that has this level of control and exhibits such contempt for the rights and existence of our people,” Abbas wrote.
He also wrote about Wednesday’s flag raising ceremony, to be held at 1 p.m. in the Rose Garden, to mark the first time the Palestinian flag will join those of member nations at the UN.
The UNGA voted earlier this month to allow the two non-member states, Palestine and the Holy See, to fly their flags.
“On September 30, we will raise our flag in a peaceful gesture that will remind all that justice and independence is ultimately possible,” Abbas said.
Although Abbas spoke of his hope for peace, he will take the podium in the midst of continued clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, particularly on the Temple Mount.
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He is expected to deliver a fiery speech and to use the General Assembly podium to launch a scathing attack on Israel in the midst of rising tensions on the Temple Mount and settler violence against Palestinians, a senior PA official in Ramallah said.
However, it remained a matter of speculation Tuesday night whether Abbas would carry out his recent and highly publicized threat to “drop a bombshell” at the end of his speech.
Mahmoud Habbash, a senior adviser to Abbas, said that the PA president would use the speech to “relay to the world the tragic situation of the State of Palestine due to Israeli aggression and corruption at the Aksa Mosque.”
Habbash accused Israel of “shutting the doors before any political solution.”
He also accused the international community of neglecting the Palestinian issue in favor of “combating so-called terror groups that were established by big powers to destroy the Arabs and Muslims and create a new Middle East.”
Habbash said that Abbas would be speaking on behalf of all Palestinians.
He urged Palestinians to lay aside their differences and rally behind Abbas and his leadership.
In the Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh urged Abbas to declare the end of the Oslo Accords with Israel during his speech at the General Assembly. He also called on Abbas not to rely on promises of the international community.
Al-Batsh also warned Abbas against submitting to US and EU pressure to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
When US President Barack Obama addressed the UNGA on Monday, he was strangely silent on the issue
of a renewed peace process, which has been frozen since April 2014. The European Union, which has been quite vocal on wanting a larger role in the process, also did not include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its UNGA address on Tuesday.
But the Quartet — the US, the EU, the UN and Russia — are expected to meet Wednesday in New York to discuss ways to jump-start the peace process. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to speak with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The peace process is expected to be on the agenda of both meetings.
On Sunday, Netanyahu issued a public call to Abbas to return to the negotiating table. Before he left Israel for New York on Tuesday, he charged that the Palestinians were abusing the sanctity of the Temple Mount to incite the Arab world against Israel.
“Israel desires peace with the Palestinians who, to my regret, are continuing to spread gross lies about our policy on the Temple Mount,” said Netanyahu.
In his address to the UNGA on Thursday, Netanyahu is expected to demand a halt to this wild incitement.
Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis have been particularly high during the holiday period, which has been marked by riots on the Temple Mount, including on Sunday and Monday.
Since the site was closed to Jewish visitors at the time, Israel has since explained that the continuous disturbances on the holy site are clearly not due to a Jewish presence.
Palestinians have warned that Israel is attempting to change the status quo on the Temple Mount compound, which houses al-Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine and is under the authority of the Wakf Muslim religious trust.
“Israel is committed to the status quo; Israel is maintaining the status quo. It is the Palestinian rioters who are bringing war materiel, pipebombs and fireworks onto the Temple Mount, who are harming the sanctity of the place and it is they who are violating the status quo,” Netanyahu said.
In addition to the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Netanyahu also plans to speak against the deal that was agreed upon in July between Tehran and the six world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel believes the deal legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, leaves it with the ability to produce atomic weapons and strengthens its ability to attack Israel and engage in global terrorism.
“The world needs to know what the citizens of Israel feel about the nuclear agreement with Iran and what we expect from the international community in following this agreement,” Netanyahu said.
He added that he would also speak about Israel’s policy with regard to Syria and the dangers Israel faces on its borders.
Netanyahu said that each time he addresses the UN, “I feel the privilege and great honor of telling the truth before the world on behalf of the citizens of Israel. With every passing day it is clear that within the collapsing Middle East, Islamic extremists are capturing more and more territory.”
In the midst of such a region, he added, “Israel is an island of progress and stability.”
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