Abbas at UN: Time is running out for peace

Abbas at UN Time is run

Time is running out to make peace with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, in a speech which hit all the points that Abbas was expected to mention. After making brief references to climate change, global warning, and the global financial crisis, Abbas took the UN to task for a "lack of commitment to the charter of this organization, and the extent to which resolutions are implemented." He said that UN archives contained "not dozens, but hundreds of resolutions which have not been implemented," documenting the "suffering of the Palestinian people... to which the UN is a living witness." Abbas went on to blame "Israel's colonial occupation" for stalling a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian people, specifically Israeli settlement policy in east Jerusalem and the West Bank security barrier, which he repeatedly referred to as the "apartheid wall." The PA president bemoaned "holy Jerusalem" becoming "completely isolated from its surroundings due to what he termed an "escalation" in settlement construction. Abbas expressed "deep appreciation" for US President Barack Obama's address to the UN two days earlier, which he said had "given much hope to our people." Regardless, he said, "Time is running out, and the risks are becoming greater," as the Palestinian people suffer "under the last occupation regime in the world." In an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper published Thursday, meanwhile, Abbas said that the Palestinians cannot return to peace talks at this time because of "fundamental disagreements" with Israel on what should be on the agenda. Abbas rebuffed an appeal by Obama that both sides get back to the table promptly. The PA president said he wants to avoid a crisis with the Obama administration at any cost and emphasized that dialogue was the only way to close the gaps and resume negotiations. But he said that for now "there is no common ground" with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. "In all honesty, we want to protect our relations with President Obama under any conditions," he told Al-Hayat. "We don't want to come out with a crisis with the Americans, or create a crisis. But in the meantime, we can't go on unless there is a clear path. The road must be defined so we can know where we are going." However, Abbas said he is willing to try to close the gaps, saying, "We don't have any other options except to talk, so long as our position is clear."