Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday praised activists who took part in an aid sail to the Gaza Strip, which left nine people dead following an Israel Defense Forces raid of the ships.
Abbas lauded the passengers killed in the raid and said that the act of solidarity with Gaza was "very respectable".
Speaking at the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, the Palestinian president said that just like the sail, which was aimed at breaking the blockade imposed on the Strip, the conference was a sail aimed at breaking the economic siege on Palestine.
"The Palestinians are suffering in the territories on a daily basis. Jerusalem is encircled, the Strip is under siege, Hebron is divided, and the question is – how long will it last?"
Abbas asked the international community to provide the Palestinians with international protection, and called for a United Nations commission of inquiry into the deadly raid.
"We expect international justice, and the blockade must be lifted. Stopping the attacks is the first step towards peace. The settlements must be halted as they are illegal, including what is defined as an expansion of settlements for natural needs."
The Palestinian leader praised Egypt for its decision to open the Rafah crossing, lauded the Turkish people, and said that he had conveyed a message against terror. He noted that even the media in Israel had attacked the government's stand regarding the sail.
Abbas added that the response to the Israeli operation should be Palestinian unity. He noted that he had sent a delegation to Gaza to try to revive the efforts to bring about a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
Addressing his upcoming meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, the Palestinian president said he would clarify that the occupation must be stopped.
"We will clarify that this is the only way to turn the region from a place of terror to a place of peace. The Palestinian people must stop waiting at roadblocks for hours. We seek freedom and an independent homeland, which will allow us to move freely."