Israel no longer ‘partner’ for peace, Palestinians’ Abbas tells UN

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Israel is deliberately hindering progress towards a two-state solution and can no longer be considered a reliable partner in the peace process, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas told the United Nations on Friday.

His comments come a day after Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he supported a two-state solution, but Abbas said the proof would be immediate negotiations.

Abbas reiterated his grievances, saying that the Jewish state has acted with “total impunity” against the people of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and that Palestinians’ confidence in the prospects for peace is “falling back”.

Israel “through its premeditated and deliberate policies is destroying the two-state solution,” the Palestinian Authority (PA) president said in a speech to the General Assembly.

“This proves unequivocally that Israel does not believe in peace,” he added.

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“That’s why we no longer have an Israeli partner to talk to.”

In his own speech, Lapid reiterated his support for the establishment of a “peaceful” Palestinian state.

Abbas called the comments a “positive development” but said a real test of credibility “is for the Israeli government to return to the negotiating table — immediately, tomorrow”.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have been stalled since 2014.

The current strategy of the Lapid government is to try to support the Palestinian economy, but without entering into a peace process with Abbas.

87-year-old Abbas faces mounting unrest in parts of the West Bank that threatens to spiral out of control, and his popularity in the area has fallen to an all-time low.

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Some Palestinians accuse the PA of being Israeli pawns and tacitly accepting the occupation of the West Bank.

– ‘Protecting Israel’ –

Abbas told the General Assembly that Israel is engaged in a campaign of land confiscation in the occupied territories and gave the military “total freedom” to kill Palestinians or otherwise use excessive force.

“This is the truth: they are an apartheid regime,” he said, using a comparison that infuriated Israel.

Demanding the international community that Israel be held accountable for “the massacres they committed,” Abbas accused the United Nations and its more powerful members, especially the United States, of “protecting Israel.”

He reiterated the Palestinians’ stance that Israel should be brought before the International Criminal Court so that it is forced “to assume its legal, political, moral and financial responsibilities”.

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The United States has urged the PA not to pursue a case with the ICC, arguing that it is not a sovereign state and that the court is wrongly targeting Israel.

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since 1967 and has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas Islamists, since 2007.

Addressing the UN via video link a year ago, Abbas said he gave Israel a year to withdraw from occupied territory or he would no longer recognize the Jewish state based on its pre-1967 borders.

He did not mention the ultimatum Friday, but instead focused on the lack of international recognition of the Palestinian territories.

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