Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged members of the continental African Union to back a French-led initiative to hold an international summit on relaunching negotiations on the decades-long Middle East conflict.
According to Palestinian news agency Ma'an, Abbas told the 54-member state body during its 27th-annual summit in Kigali, Rwanada that its international and regional influence makes it an important player in promoting peace.
“Our hands are extended for peace with our neighbors, to be achieved through legal and peaceful means based on international resolutions," Ma'an quoted Abbas as saying, in apparent reference to UN resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian
Israel was an observer member of the Organization of African Unity until the OAU was dissolved and replaced by the African Union in 2002. Then, under pressure from Libya’s former strongman Muammar Gaddafi, Israel lost this status, something it now seeks to regain.
During Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent visit to Africa
in early July, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said his nation will work to restore Israel’s observer status at the African Union.
“Palestine,” by contrast, was granted this status in 2013. As a result, Abbas has the ability to address the organization.
During his address Sunday, the PA president lauded the African Union for supporting the Palestinians and their efforts to "end Israel's occupation."
Abbas reiterated his unwavering position that peace between the two side can only occur if Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders and an independent Palestinian state is established with a capital in east Jerusalem.