Abbas called for end to Israeli apartheid in press remarks with Biden

The US has been blunt about its opposition to accusations of Israeli apartheid, but Biden did not respond to Abbas' use of that language. 

 US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Presidential Compound, in Bethlehem, in the West Bank July 15, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Presidential Compound, in Bethlehem, in the West Bank July 15, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an end to Israeli “apartheid” and warned that the two-state solution would not be on the table forever, as he called on Israel to sit with him to make the “peace of the brave.”

He spoke at a joint press conference with US President Joe Biden in Bethlehem on Friday.

“We are looking forward to the efforts of your administration to close the chapter of the Israeli occupation of our land and ending the act of racial discrimination, the apartheid against our people, and halt unilateral actions,” Abbas said.

The US has been blunt about its opposition to accusations of Israeli apartheid, but Biden did not respond to Abbas’s use of that language.

In his speech, Abbas urged the United States to unilaterally recognize the state of Palestine.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomes US President Joe Biden in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomes US President Joe Biden in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

“The key to peace and security in our region begins with recognizing the state of Palestine and enabling the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate rights in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions.”

Abbas said he looked forward to steps that America could take to strengthen its relations with the PA.

This includes the re-opening of both the US Jerusalem Consulate-General, which had been seen as a de-facto embassy for the PA, and the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington. Both offices were closed by the Trump administration.

Abbas asked the US to remove the Palestine Liberation Organization from its terror list stating, “we are not terrorists.”

He also asked for those who killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to be held responsible. The PA has accused the IDF of killing her while she was covering an IDF raid in Jenin.

Abbas assured Biden of the PA’s willingness to work with the US to achieve peace with Israel.

In describing the land of “the state of Palestine,” the PA president said it was “east Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders” as he called for peace talks with Israel to achieve that two-state goal.

“The opportunity for a two-state solution on the ’67 border may be available today only; we do not know what will happen later,” he said. “I extend my hand to the people of Israel to make peace of the brave,” so that there will be a better future for the young generations.

“It’s been 55 years [since 1967] and 74 since the Nakba. I ask you: When will the occupation end? When will our nation get its freedom and independence?”

Biden arrived in Bethlehem after visiting the Augusta Victoria Hospital in east Jerusalem in the morning.

The president said America will commit an additional $100 million to Palestinian hospitals, stressing that “the US has been proud to support this network of hospitals with $85 million since 2014... for respect and dignity” of Palestinians, and added that it will continue to support access to healthcare for all.

Augusta Victoria Hospital head Dr. Fadi Atrash, who greeted Biden, said that “your historical visit to east Jerusalem shows support for the Palestinian people,” adding that “we are like the Americans. They have an American dream, and we have ours. For that, we need support, justice and freedom. Thank you for your support.”