Photo Credit: Amir Levy / Flash 90
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 71st UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City, on September 22, 2016.

His Excellency, Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Heads of Delegations:

I had hoped that I would not have been compelled to make this statement today, hoping that the cause of my people would have been justly resolved, would have been genuinely heard, and that hearts and consciences would have acted to lift them from oppression.

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As you all are aware, we have accepted the primacy and judgment of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, and made a historic and immense sacrifice, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, accepted to establish the State of Palestine on the 4 June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. What more can be asked of us?

We remain committed to the agreements reached with Israel since 1993. However, Israel must reciprocate this commitment and must act forthwith to resolve all of the final status issues.

It must cease all of its settlement colonization activities and aggressions against our cities, villages and refugee camps. It must cease its policies of collective punishment and its demolition of Palestinian homes. It must cease its extrajudicial executions and cease the arrest of our people, and must release the thousands of our prisoners and detainees. It must cease its aggression and provocations against the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque. For all of these policies and practices prevent an environment in which peace can be realized in our region.

How can anyone seeking peace perpetrate such actions?

In this regard, we reaffirm that we can never accept the continuation of the prevailing situation. We will never accept the humiliation of the dignity of our people. We will never accept temporary or interim solutions. And, our people will never accept to forgo their national institutions and achievements, which they attained through great sacrifice, suffering and pain.

We will preserve the independence of Palestinian decision-making and will act to fulfill the aspirations of our people via political and diplomatic means and international law and the legitimacy of international resolutions via the United Nations and all international forums, and we will seek to mobilize Arab and international efforts towards this end.

We will not accept the continuation of the prevailing situation.

The 1993 Oslo Accords were intended to end the occupation and achieve the independence of the State of Palestine within five years. Yet, Israel reneged on the agreements it signed and, to this moment, persists with its occupation and continues to expand its illegal settlement enterprise, which undermines realization of the two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.

Does Israel want one State?

Despite the Security Council’s adoption of 12 resolutions condemning Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, none of these resolutions has been implemented, encouraging Israel to continue pursuing its plans for the seizure of more Palestinian land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with impunity.

The violent actions of Israeli settlers have reached the extent of the formation of terrorist groups that burn and kill entire families, destroy properties, and uproot the trees that are the livelihoods of Palestinian families.

Israel’s disrespect and contemptuous policies have even lead to attempts to “legalize” the settlements and the settlers colonizing our occupied land since 1967.

It even led to the point of the Israeli Prime Minister claiming that the call for cessation of settlements and their dismantlement and evacuating settlers constitutes “ethnic cleansing”. All such attempts are null and void and constitute clear grave breaches under international law.

So, who then is perpetrating ethnic cleansing?

In this regard, I am compelled to again warn that what the Israeli Government is doing in pursuit of its expansionist settlement plans will destroy whatever possibility and hopes are left for the two-State solution on the 1967 borders.

The settlements are illegal in every aspect and any manifestation.

We will therefore continue to exert all efforts for a Security Council resolution on the settlements and the terror of the settlers, and we are undertaking extensive consultations with the Arab countries and other friendly countries on this matter.

We hope no one will cast a veto.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel’s racial discrimination against the Palestinian people has become a daily reality as it continues to privilege the Israeli settlers on our occupied land, including by granting them permits for residential construction as well as for factories, economic projects and infrastructure such as for road, electricity and water networks. This is happening at the very same time that they are preventing the Palestinian owners of the land from the use of their land and prohibiting them from developing their economy, which is a right of international priority in this era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in which no country should be left behind.

Military orders continue to be issued to prohibit their use of the majority of their lands in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, and the Palestinian shores on the Dead Sea. And it continues with its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. And it continues to illegally alter identity and status of Occupied East Jerusalem and to commit aggressions and provocations against our Christian and Muslim holy sites, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The continuation of the Israeli aggressions against our Muslim and Christian holy sites is playing with fire.

All of these Israeli policies, actions and measures are the reasons for the failure of all international efforts, particularly that of the international Quartet for the past 13 years, just as Israel has sabotaged the efforts of successive American administrations over the decades.

Here, I must once again appeal to you to provide international protection for the Palestinian people, suffering under occupation since 1967 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

I extend my appreciation in this regard to the Security Council members who convened an Arria meeting of the Council to explore the possibilities of international protection for our people, and I urge that these efforts continue.

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