Last-gasp effort for the two-state solution leaves Palestinians out in the cold.
Geneva, Switzerland – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on the international community to defend the two-state solution in an address at the opening of the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Abbas told member states on Monday that Israel was moving towards an “apartheid solution” in Palestine in light of a new Israeli law passed earlier this month that legalised dozens of Jewish-only settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land.
He also cautioned states against moving their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem, in a warning seen as a direct response to promises made by US President Donald Trump during his campaign for the White House in which he threatened to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the divided holy city.
“Palestine will remain the litmus test for this council … and whether it succeeds or not, will be crucial for the credibility of the human rights system throughout the world,” said Abbas.
Abbas was the first of more than 100 dignitaries to speak at the “high-level segment” of this year’s session.
The last and only time Abbas addressed the council was in 2015.
The 34th session also marked first address to the UNHRC by Antonio Guterres, who began his tenure as the new UN secretary-general in January.
After the three-day, high-level session, the council is expected to move on to issues such as the death penalty, racial profiling and incitement.
“Palestine today is a truth, a reality anchored in history and the international system. It was recognised by the international community in 2012, 138 states have recognised it and its flag is raised at the United Nations,” he said.
“We call for the establishment of a system that would guarantee an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.”
Israel has militarily occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip since 1967, and has since facilitated the creation of hundreds of Jewish-only settlements across the occupied territories.
More than a half million Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
While all settlements are considered illegal under international law, more than 100 outposts have been built without authorisation and are considered illegal by even the Israeli government.
Abbas went on to reiterate his appeal for an “international protection regime” that would guarantee “the end of Israel’s occupation, the confiscation of land, the theft of water resources and the destruction of homes”.
He called on states that have not done so to recognise officially the state of Palestine, and for the international community to come up with a precise timetable for an end to Israel’s occupation.
Abbas’ speech at the UNHRC comes just weeks after President Donald Trump appeared to walk away from a long-standing US commitment to the two-state-solution.
“Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, I srael’s prime minister, in advance of their first official meeting at the White House.
A two-state solution – the idea of Israel and Palestine living side-by-side and at peace – has been the bedrock of US diplomacy for the past two decades.
Nikki Haley, the n ewly appointed US ambassador to the UN, quickly put out a statement saying the US “absolutely” supports a two-state-solution, but was looking for new ideas to push things forward.
US-based outlet Politico reported on Saturday that the Trump administration was debating the idea of quitting the UNHRC over its alleged anti-Israeli bias.
During this year’s session, the council is expected to receive at least three reports detailing allegations of Israeli human-rights abuses against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
A separate report set to be submitted during this year’s session will focus on the Druze community in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, according to the Jerusalem Post.
A resolution reiterating the UNHRC’s call for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria is expected by the end of this year’s session on March 24.
Israel captured the Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 Middle East war, and officially annexed it in 1981.