Abbas: Israel promising new ‘nakba’

PA president in speech to UNGA accuses Israel of pursuing a “policy of war, occupation and settlement colonization,” rejecting two-state solution.

Mahmoud Abbas UN 370 (photo credit: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
Mahmoud Abbas UN 370
(photo credit: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
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.”
But 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 peace.”
Abbas said his renewed statehood bid was not aimed at delegitimizing Israel, “but rather to assert that the state of Palestine must be realized.”
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 Bank.
“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 aid.
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 two-state solution.”
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 robbed.”
“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.