With region ‘at a crossroads’, Palestinian President calls on UN’s Guterres to convene international peace conference
The President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called on the UN Secretary-General to convene an international peace conference and said that to ensure that this initiative is not open-ended, Israel must withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem within one year.
Speaking on the fourth day of the high-level week of the General Assembly, in a pre-recorded message, Mr. Abbas said the initiative should be “in line with the internationally-recognized terms of reference and United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, and under the sole auspices of the international Quartet.”
He also asked UN chief António Guterres “to work on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions on protection” in order “to take the necessary steps towards developing an international mechanism for protection.” The mechanism should be activated “on the borders of the occupied State of Palestine in 1967, including East Jerusalem.”
“To ensure our initiative is not open-ended, we must state that Israel, the occupying Power, has one year to withdraw from the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem,” he explained. “And we are ready to work throughout this year on the delineation of borders and solving all final status issues under the auspices of the international Quartet and in accordance with United Nations resolutions.”
“The international community’s support for this initiative, consistent with international law and United Nations resolutions, may save the region from an unknown fate,” he added.
Mahmoud Abbas noted that, 2021 marks the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, a term used to refer to the events surrounding the establishment of the State of Israel.
“More than half the Palestinian people were uprooted from their land and deprived of their property in that time. Myself, my family and many others still possess the deeds to our land. These deeds are registered as part of the United Nations’ records,” Mr. Abbas said, holding a document he said was his family deed.
“Here is that deed, and many Palestinians carry theirs, as they still hold onto the keys of their houses to this day. We have not been able to recover our properties due to Israeli laws that disregard international law and violate United Nations resolutions.”
He said it was “regrettable that the policies of the international community and the decisions of the relevant United Nations bodies regarding a solution for the ‘Question of Palestine’ have until now not been upheld and implemented.”
Addressing domestic issues, he assured that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) “is the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people” and that they are committed to holding legislative and presidential elections and to the Palestinian National Council “as soon as holding such elections in Jerusalem is guaranteed as per signed agreements.”
“We call on the international community to help us bring pressure to bear upon the occupying Power to ensure these elections are held in Jerusalem as we cannot continue being deprived of elections,” he said.
Mr. Abbas also referred to the “constructive dialogue” currently underway with the United States Administration to resume Palestinian-US relations.
“From our side, we will strive to succeed in this endeavor so as to create conditions conducive to moving swiftly towards a final political settlement that ends the Israeli occupation of our country,” he assured.
He warned, though, that the current and former Israeli governments “have persisted in evading the two-State solution based on international law and UN resolutions.”
“These unilateral plans will not achieve security and stability for anyone as they undermine efforts for a genuine peace and prolong occupation and entrench the reality of one apartheid state,” he added.
For Mr. Abbas, “this is a moment of truth” and the region is at “a crossroads.”
“We have extended our hands time and time again for peace and still we cannot find a partner in Israel that believes in and accepts the two-State solution,” he assured. “The leaders of Israel no longer feel any shame while stating their blunt opposition to this solution that is supported by global consensus.”