Abbas: Palestinians will not be only side to abide by agreements

Palestinian Authority president says Israel is transforming the conflict from political to religious, status quo is untenable; asks 'Until when will Israel remain above international law and without accountability?'

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took to the podium on Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly to deliver a speech that drew much speculation after his declaration earlier in September that it would conclude with a "bombshell".



Abbas alleged that Israel violated all agreements that were part of the Oslo Accords, failing to withdraw from areas B and C (which comprise 60 percent of the West Bank), and as such the Palestinians would not remain the only side obligated to abide by their terms.


He placed the responsibility squarely on Israel to either take on all of its roles as an "occupier" of a "state under occupation", or allow the Palestinian Authority to be a transitional body until the establishment of a bona fide state.


The speech included a dig at Obama, whose speech on Monday failed to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that anyone who seeks peace and to battle terrorism must first and foremost solve the Palestinian question.


Abbas speaking at the UN on Wednesday (Photo: AFP)
Abbas speaking at the UN on Wednesday (Photo: AFP)


Abbas told the General Assembly that Israeli elements were attempting to divide the al-Aqsa Mosque compound with the government's backing, and are attempting to prevent Muslims from entering the compound during certain hours. He argued that Israel's actions at the mosque were dangerously transforming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a diplomatic one to a religious one.


"It is unconscionable, in light of all our enormous sacrifices and patience of all these years of suffering, and our acceptance of two-state solutions, that the question of Palestine remains unresolved all these decades," declared Abbas.


Abbas also said that while a Palestinian state is recognized by the UN as an observer, the Palestinians deserve to be recognized as a full member state. He added that continuation of the status quo was untenable. Abbas also noted Yitzhak Rabin's warning that Israel would become an apartheid state if the Palestinian question remained unsolved.


The PA president went on to mention deaths of Palestinians who have become symbolic of the conflict with Israel -- Ali Dawabsheh, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and Muhammad al-Durrah, as well as the alleged massacre at Deir Yassin decades ago.  


Abbas before his speech (Photo: AFP)
Abbas before his speech (Photo: AFP)

"Until when will Israel remain above international law and without accountability?" asked Abbas.


Israel's prime minister and ministers are, claimed Abbas, attempting to sabotage the two-state solution promoted by Western nations involved in the peace process.



Abbas watches as Palestinian flag is raised above the UN    (צילום: רויטרס)

Abbas watches as Palestinian flag is raised above the UN


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Abbas noted that US President Barack Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo called for the cessation of settlement building in Israel , and claimed that Israel reacted by increasing settlement activity by 20 percent.


He also called on the UN to provide the Palestinians with international protection. 


The Prime Minister's Office released a statement after the speech, saying: "Abbas's speech is deceitful and encourages incitement and disaster in the Middle East," the Prime Minister's Office stated. "In contrast to the Palestinians, Israel strictly adheres to the status quo at the Temple Mount and is committed to continue maintaining it according to agreements between ourselves and Jordan and the Waqf. We expect and call on the Palestinian Authority and its leader to act responsibility and accept the prime minister of Israel's offer to hold direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions. The fact that he has repeatedly declined to accept is the best proof of all that he does not seek a peace agreement."  


In an interview this month, Abbas said that his speech would focus on the Oslo accords, and the alleged Israeli violations of the agreement, like the destruction of Palestinian structures in areas A and B.


Analysts have attempted to guess what Abbas might announce. Some possibilities raised were the cancelation of the Oslo Accords, dismantling the PA (leaving Israel responsible for the entire Palestinian population as an occupying force) or declaring Palestine a "state under occupation", which would lead them to seek protection from the international community, while turning to the UNSC in an attempt to grant Palestine full state status.


Despite Abbas's statement, Mahmoud Habbash, Abbas's confidant and a former minister of religious affairs, said on Monday that the speech will not "surprise".  


"There will be no surprise that Arab and international officials haven't heard about before," Habbash told an Arab media outlet.


In a ceremony after Abbas's speech, the Palestinian flag was raised above the UN for the first time, hailed by Palestinian leaders as an important symbolic step.


Thousands of Palestinians congregated in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Nablus and Bethlehem for Abbas's speech, and especially for the flag-raising ceremony.



פרסום ראשון: 09.30.15, 18:40
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