Abbas, Addressing UN General Assembly, Calls for Jews To Abandon Israel

The Palestinian Arab leader warns against ‘transforming the political conflict into a religious conflict for which,’ he says, ‘Israel will bear full responsibility.’

Saudi Press Agency via AP, file
President Abbas attends the Arab summit at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 19, 2023. Saudi Press Agency via AP, file

Jews must abandon Israel, the Palestinian Authority president told the United Nations General Assembly Thursday in a speech that is unlikely to promote any diplomacy with Jerusalem. 

“The Palestinians cannot leave their land,” President Abbas, 87, told the UN. “If anyone must leave this land, then it must be the occupier.”

The Palestinian Arab leader pleaded with Secretary-General Guterres to set up an international peace conference aimed at resolving the deadlock on the decades-long conflict in the Middle East. “We have repeatedly warned against transforming the political conflict into a religious conflict for which Israel will bear full responsibility,” he said. 

Beyond Israel, Mr. Abbas directed his barbs at Britain and America as well. The “international community” must provide “acknowledgement and apology” for “the catastrophe and tragedy of our people,” he said.

Sanctions must be imposed on Israel for violating the norms of national sovereignty promised by the General Assembly and Security Council, Mr. Abbas said. “This hideous occupation that is imposed on us will not last regardless of their ambitions and their delusions,” he declared.

While Mr. Abbas is increasingly unpopular at the West Bank, he is admired at the corridors of the United Nations headquarters at Turtle Bay on New York’s East River. At the end of his speech, an admirer chanted, in violation of diplomatic decorum, “Free, free Palestine.”

Aware of that support, Mr. Abbas asserted, “Many countries in the world have started to believe our narrative,” which for decades has been “deliberately distorted by the Zionist and Israeli propaganda.” 

He concluded by pointing to a commitment to the Palestinian people, both in refugee camps and across the world: “a right is never lost when there is a demand behind it, and victory is ours,” he said. 

Elected in 2005 for a four-year stint as head of the Ramallah government, Mr. Abbas has since declined to schedule further elections, even as he assumed more titles.

While talk in Washington, Riyadh, and elsewhere continues to center on a “two-state solution,” few in Israel and America believe Mr. Abbas has the authority to conduct negotiations. A rival faction, Hamas, controls Gaza, and is widely seen as likely to win an election in the West Bank, as well.

Even before a recent diatribe, in which the Palestinian Arab leader asserted that Hitler persecuted Jews because of “usury.” Mr. Abbas, whose security services have lost control of major West Bank cities, was widely considered irrelevant by most political factions at Jerusalem.  


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