Palestinian leader calls for new peace process in UN speech

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called for an international conference early next year to launch a “genuine peace process”.

Abbas seemed to acknowledge the growing international weariness with the decades-old conflict as he delivered the latest in a long series of addresses to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

“I wondered while preparing this statement what more could I tell you, after all that I have said in previous statements,” he said in the video address from his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Palestinians have rejected United States (US) President Donald Trump’s proposal to end the conflict, which overwhelmingly favours Israel, and have officially cut off contacts with both the US 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. Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan responded with a video statement calling Abbas’ speech a collection of “lies and incitement against Israel” and arguing that the Palestinian leader was “desperate” because of the agreements Israel reached with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

“All Abbas showed was continued Palestinian rejectionism,” Erdan said.

In his speech, Abbas said the agreements, signed at the White House earlier this month, are a “violation” of the “principles of a just and lasting solution under international law”.

For more than three decades, the Palestinians have sought an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but imposed a crippling blockade when the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized power from Abbas’ forces in 2007.

File photo shows Palestinians running from tear gas fired by Israeli forces near the West Bank city of Nablus. PHOTO: AP