Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has criticised the recent decision of two Arab countries to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel as a “violation” of a “just and lasting solution under international law”.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday, Abbas also called for an international conference early next year to “launch a genuine peace process” in the wake of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain’s recognition of Israel.
“The conference should have full authority to launch a genuine peace process based on international law,” Abbas told the virtual UNGA in a recorded video address from his headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
“It should aim to end the occupation and grant the Palestinian people their freedom and independence in their own state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and settle final-status issues, notably the refugee question,” he said.
The Palestinians have rejected US President Donald Trump’s proposal to end the conflict, which they say overwhelmingly favours Israel, and have officially cut off contact with the United States and Israel. Arguing that Washington is no longer an honest broker, they have called for a multilateral peace process based on UN resolutions and past agreements.
They have also rejected the agreements signed by the UAE and Bahrain on September 15 to normalise ties with Israel, viewing it as a betrayal of the long-standing Arab consensus that recognition of Israel should only come in exchange for territorial concessions.
Since the mid-90s, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has sought an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem, territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war.
There have been no substantive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was first elected more than 10 years, and the two sides are fiercely divided over the core issues of the conflict.
Instead, Netanyahu has focused on building ties with Arab, African and Asian countries that have long supported the Palestinian cause. In Israel, the agreement with the UAE, an oil-rich country with considerable regional influence, is seen as an historic breakthrough that could transform the Middle East.
Israel put on hold its plans to annex up to a third of the West Bank following the deal with the UAE, while saying it still plans to eventually go through with them. The UAE said the agreement removed an immediate threat to the two-state solution and gave the region a window of opportunity.
The Palestinians insist the conflict will not be resolved until they realise their aspirations for independence.
“There can be no peace, no security, no stability, no coexistence in our region without an end to the occupation,” Abbas said.