NEW YORK (AFP) – Drawing parallels with the US fight for civil rights, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas vowed Monday to present a new timetable for peace talks with Israel when he addresses world leaders this week.
“I say today to Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu: end the occupation, make peace,” Abbas told an audience in New York.
In a passionate address to students in the Cooper Union hall where former US president Abraham Lincoln once called for an end to slavery, Abbas called on the world to “rethink Palestine”.
“The international community has the responsibility to protect our people, living under the terror of settlers, an occupying army,” Abbas said, winning loud applause from a large audience of mixed religions, including Jewish students.
“We want the international community to defend us from the settlers, and from the Israeli army,” Abbas said, in what was billed as his first speech in English to a general American audience.
“We cannot understand how the Israeli government can be so misguided as to fail to understand that the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza that killed thousands of women and children, only sowed more hate,” Abbas said.
“This week I will propose to the United Nations a new timetable for peace talks,” Abbas said, speaking in English and winning a standing ovation from the audience at one of America’s oldest educational institutions.
Evoking the legends of such icons as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr, Abbas said he was bringing a message of peace.
“Security equals justice,” Abbas insisted, and drew parallels with the century-long US struggle for civil rights peppering his speech with references to King and Abraham Lincoln.
“Enough is enough; end the occupation. We ask that the international community stop hiding behind calls for the resumption of talks,” Abbas said.
The veteran Palestinian leader is set to address the annual UN General Assembly on Friday.
Palestinian leaders have said Abbas intends to propose a three-year deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.