Without a “firm timetable” in place to end the Israeli presence in Gaza and the West Bank, there’s no value in continuing peace talks President Mahmoud Abbas said during his speech at the UN General Assembly Friday.
"It's high time for this settlement occupation to end now," Abbas told the 193-member world body, which voted overwhelmingly in 2012 to grant the Palestinians de facto statehood by upgrading their UN status from "entity" to "non-member state." This also made the Palestinians eligible to apply for inclusion in the Rome Statute, opening them up to join the International Criminal Court, and possibly bring war crimes charges against Israel.
Arab leaders have eschewed efforts to achieve a temporary cease-fire. The only solution, they say, is to permanently resolve the underlying conflicts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and other UN officials are also eager for the two parties to resolve the conflict at its root, and to prevent such skirmishes from happening again in the future.
"There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian territory occupied in the 1967 war," Abbas said.
Over the course of the last few days at the General Debate, Arab leaders have emphasized time and again that a resolution to the conflict must result in a two-state solution adhering to the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine. Abbas criticized the continuous cycle of negotiations that yield no results.
Israel has not accepted the 1967 borders. On Tuesday, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to resume talks late next month to cement a cease-fire in Gaza.
"There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian Territory occupied in the 1967 war," Abbas said.
Since the end of July talk of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution has floated around the Security Council. Jordan began circulating a draft resolution, but the Council members never made progress on it. In late August the United States and a trilateral coalition of European nations each began working on their own version of elements they wanted included in any resolution brought to a vote.
A document called “Elements” drafted by the European coalition, made up of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, leaked to the press at the end of August. Stipulations for a resolution included implementing a governing body to ensure the rebuilding of Gaza was executed properly, and that both sides adhered to the terms of the cease-fire and any further peace talks.
Abbas on Friday angrily denounced Israel for "committing genocide in Gaza" and “missing no opportunity to undermine the chance for peace” while “seeking the continuation and entrenchment of the occupation.”
In what appears to be a new phase in the Palestinian diplomatic drive for unilateral recognition of statehood, Abbas said that he would seek the approval of the Security Council for a draft resolution that establishes a timetable for independence.
"During the past two weeks, Palestine and the Arab Group undertook intensive contacts with the various regional groups in the United Nations to prepare for the introduction of a draft resolution to be adopted by the United Nations Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to push forward the efforts to achieve peace," he said.
"This endeavor reaffirms our commitment to achieve a just peace through a negotiated solution and our adoption of a diplomatic and political effort through United Nations bodies. This endeavor is inspired by and based fully on the spirit and provisions of the many resolutions you have approved in the General Assembly and those adopted by the Security Council, which have set the foundations for a lasting solution and a just peace."
"This endeavor aspires to correct the deficiency of the previous efforts to achieve peace by affirming the goal of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the two-state solution, of the State of Palestine, with east Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory occupied in 1967, alongside the State of Israel and reaching a just and agreed upon solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees on the basis of resolution 194, with a specific timeframe for the implementation of these objectives as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative. This will be linked to the immediate resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel to demarcate the borders, reach a detailed and comprehensive agreement and draft a peace treaty between them."
In his speech before the UN General Assembly in New York, the Palestinian leader condemned the Israeli government for “escalating violations” in Jerusalem and the West Bank, a reference to the continued settlement activity.
Abbas said that Israel’s actions show that “there is no credibility or seriousness” in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s claim that Jerusalem seeks a two-state solution.
“During the nine months of negotiations with the Israeli government, settlement construction and the campaign of killings and arrests continued unabated,” the Palestinian president said.
“There is no value in negotiations that are not linked to a firm timetable for the implementation” of an Israeli withdrawal, Abbas said.
The Palestinian leader said that Israeli settlers, whom he termed “racist and armed gangs,” have “persisted with their crimes against the Palestinian people.”
Abbas added that the Israeli government’s vision of a future Palestinian state encompasses “isolated ghettos at best, apartheid at worst.”
“The policy of the occupation over the course of the past few years has been to weaken the Palestinian Authority,” Abbas said. “The occupation wants to destroy the chance for the realization of the Palestinian existence in an independent state.”
Indicating a preference for unilateral measures which he hopes will yield an independent Palestine, Abbas said that a return to the negotiating table would be futile.
"The idea that it is possible to simply return to the past patterns of work, which repeatedly failed, is naive at best and, in any case, is wrong, as it ignores the fact that it is no longer acceptable, nor possible, to repeat methods that have proven futile or to continue with approaches that have repeatedly failed and require comprehensive review and radical correction," Abbas said.
"It is impossible, and I repeat - it is impossible - to return to the cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question," he said. "There is neither credibility nor seriousness in negotiations in which Israel predetermines the results via its settlement activities and the occupation’s brutality. There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian territory occupied in the 1967 war. And, there is no value in negotiations which are not linked to a firm timetable for the implementation of this goal."