Speaking at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, referring to its illegal settlement building on Palestinian lands, its racist policies against non-Jewish citizens, as well as its continuing occupation of Palestine for more than 50 years.
Condemning Israeli colonial expansionism, the president demanded the international community to show the borders of Israel. “What actually constitutes the land of Israel?” he asked. “What are the borders of Israel? Bring me a map and please show me where are the borders,” added Abbas. “This colonial occupation continues to suffocate us.»
Abbas also condemned the U.S. administration for recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy there in May. He urged the U.S. administration to rescind that decision and the decision to withdraw funds from UNRWA and hospitals in East Jerusalem. He also criticized Trump’s decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington, terming it as a terrorist organization despite it being internationally recognized as the representative of Palestinians.
Since 1948, the U.N. has passed 86 resolutions on the Palestine issue and according to Abbas, none of the resolutions have been implemented. “I believe in peaceful negotiations,” he said but “Israel has not respected a single resolution passed by the U.N. How can we have negotiations then?”
Condemning the recent order by Israeli authority to evacuate the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, he asked the world leaders, “Do you condemn the actions?” The forced displacement of Khan al-Ahmar’s inhabitants by Israel is considered a tactic to divide the West Bank in two so as to completely control East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 during the Middle East war.
But, East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine according to Abbas and peace will not be achieved in the region until it is considered the capital of the occupied state. Drawing attention to the precarity of Palestinians, Abbas asked the international body, “Why are we treated as disposable people who can be killed off easily?”
While concluding his remarks, Abbas said the Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital and that he is open to a two-state solution, but he will only accept that if a permanently fixed border is drawn. He will not accept temporary borders being drawn by the international community.
Commenting on the two-state solution, few hours before Abbas spoke at the UNGA session, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that he does not care for a Palestinian state. The U.S. President Donald Trump Wednesday said that he “liked” the two-state solution as it might be the most effective way to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict. But according to Lieberman, Israeli interest is to constitute a “safe Jewish state”.