The formal recognition of “Palestine” as a state by all nations is the best way to preserve the two-state solution, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday.
“We call on countries that have recognized Israel and believe in the two-state solution to defend and support this solution by recognizing the State of Palestine,” he said in his address to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
His message was directed at Western powers, most of whom have opposed unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state and believe it should occur only after an agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas also urged the council to work harder to protect Palestinians, arguing that failure to do so harmed the global struggle for human rights.
“Palestine will remain the greatest test for this council, and its success in defending human rights in Palestine will determine the sustainability of human rights across the world. We must not fail this test,” he said.
Abbas spoke on the first day of the month-long session, and was the first of 107 international dignitaries to address the council.
It’s only the second time he has spoken to the council at the high-level portions of its sessions. He last did so in 2015.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in New York Danny Danon criticized the council for hosting Abbas and giving his speech such prominence.
“It is no surprise that this council, which has long been divorced from reality, has chosen once again to provide a platform for Palestinian smears against us,” he said.
“It is time that Abbas and the Palestinian leadership understand that a new era has dawned at the UN in which speeches and one-sided initiatives against Israel will not succeed. The only way forward is through direct negotiations with Israel.”
Abbas focused his speech on diplomatic issues with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where peace talks have been frozen since April 2014.
The Palestinians have insisted that no such talks can occur unless Israel halts all settlement activity and Jewish building in Jerusalem neighborhoods over the pre- 1967 lines.
Israel has called for talks without preconditions and in the absence of such talks have ideas of alternative options put forward.
At the UNHRC, Abbas rejected the possibility of any interim process that would delay a two-state solution and also warned the United States against relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
The issue of Palestinian statehood is independent from any regional process, he added.
It is impractical “to discuss temporary solutions or merge the question of Palestine within the framework of regional affairs as the current Israeli government has attempted to do,” he said. “Peace in the world can be secured by the realization of the two-state solution, Palestine and Israel, living side by side on the pre-1967 borders in peace and security. The creation of the State of Palestine will undermine the driving force of terror and extremism, and we are a part of the international system combating terrorism.”
The Palestinians want to work with US President Donald Trump and his administration to achieve a two-state solution based on past international understandings, the 81-year-old said.
“We also reiterate our readiness and willingness to cooperate with all countries, including the US administration of President Trump, toward the achievement of peace on the basis of International law and international resolutions.
“We warn concerned parties not to take steps that contribute to strengthening the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine.
This includes the support to the Israeli settlement enterprise, attacks against holy places, or moving embassies to Jerusalem,” Abbas said.
He issued his comments just two weeks after Trump made comments that opened the question as to whether a two-state solution was the sole method by which to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinians have argued that two states are the only way to achieve peace, but that statehood and an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines must occur irrespective of peace.
“There must be a timeline for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and east Jerusalem,” a move he said that would end “the belligerent military occupation,” Abbas said.
“This will lead to an independent Palestinian state on the pre-June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
“The State of Palestine will live in peace, security and stability side by side with Israel.”
In response to Abbas, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Aviva Raz Shechter tweeted: “We are ready to sit together to discuss directly all issues in order to reach a solution, as it was also repeatedly offered by PM Netanyahu.”
At the UNHRC Abbas called for an “international protection system for Palestinian people” that would end Israeli land confiscations and halt home demolitions as well as arrests.
Abbas also addressed the Knesset’s passage of the “Settlements Bill,” which retroactively legalizes settler homes on private Palestinian property while offering the Palestinian landowners compensation for their land loss.
Abbas described the bill as the legalization of land “theft” adding that it’s a “very dangerous precedent” that the international community should reject.
This law, he said, would make it impossible to have a two-state solution to the conflict, leaving only the option of an “apartheid” one-state solution.
He called on the UN to immediately implement Security Council Resolution 2334 against settlement activity, which it passed in December. In addition, he said, the UNHRC should complete its work on a data base of international companies doing business with the settlements, known in Israel as the blacklist, which is due out by the end of the year.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said “It is the height of hypocrisy for Abbas to warn against [Israeli] unilateral steps while calling on the UN to create a blacklist that supports boycotts against Israel.”