Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly to declare 2017 “the international year to end the Israeli occupation of our land and our people,” and exert all efforts to end the decades of injustice imposed upon the Palestinian people and provide a unique opportunity for peace, stability and coexistence to prevail in the region.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today called on world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly to declare 2017 “the international year to end the Israeli occupation of our land and our people,” and exert all efforts to end the decades of injustice imposed upon the Palestinian people and provide a unique opportunity for peace, stability and coexistence to prevail in the region.
In his address to the Assembly’s annual general debate, President Abbas declared that “there is no way to defeat terrorism and extremism, no way to achieve security and stability in our region without ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine and ensuring the freedom and independence of the Palestinian people.”
“Our hand remains outstretched for making peace,” he continued, but noted that the question that keeps presenting itself over and over again is if there is any leadership in Israel that desires to make a true peace and “that will abandon the mentality of hegemony, expansionism and colonization, and that will recognize the rights of our people and will end the historic injustice inflicted upon them?”
Mr. Abbas said the 1993 Oslo Accords were intended to the end of the occupation and achieve the independence of the State of Palestine within five years, but Israel reneged on the agreements it signed and, to this moment, persists with its occupation and continues to expand its illegal settlement enterprise, which undermines realization of the two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.
“The settlements are illegal in every aspect and any manifestation,” he said, calling on the permanent members of the Security Council not to veto a resolution on Israel’s settlements and the terror of the settlers being prepared in consultations with Arab countries and other friendly countries.
Mr. Abbas also pointed out that Israel continues its attempts to evade an international conference for peace, proposed by France, which has received the support of the majority of the world’s countries.
“It remains our hope that such a conference will lead to the establishment of a mechanism and defined timeframe for an end to the occupation,” he said, calling for support for the convening of this meeting before the end of this year.
“There is no conflict between us and the Jewish religion and its people,” Mr. Abbas said, adding that “our conflict is with the Israeli occupation of our land.”
“We respect the Jewish religion and condemn the catastrophe that befell the Jewish people in World War II in Europe, and view it as one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against humanity,” he said.
It has been 100 years since the notorious Balfour Declaration, by which Britain gave, without any right, authority or consent from anyone, the land of Palestine to another people, he said, explaining that this paved the road for the Nakba of Palestinian people and their dispossession and displacement from their land. Britain should bear “its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibilities for the consequences of this Declaration", he said, asking Britain to apologize to the Palestinian people “for the catastrophes, miseries and injustices that it created, and to act to rectify this historic catastrophe and remedy its consequences, including by recognition of the State of Palestine.”
Israel has violated UN General Assembly resolution 181 adopted in 1947, which is also known as the partition resolution because it called for the establishment of two States on the historic land of Palestine according to a specific partition plan. Israeli forces seized more land than that allotted to Israel, he said.
Mr. Abbas appealed to UN Member States, as a follow-up to General Assembly resolution 67/19 that made Palestine a non-member Observer in the UN, to adopt another text to enable Palestine to present and cosponsor resolutions beyond the question of Palestine and grant it additional responsibilities to chair committees and international groups.