(JTA) – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians are no longer bound by agreements with Israel, although he did not outline any plans to abrogate them.
“We declare that as long as Israel refuses to commit to the agreements signed with us, which renders us an authority without real powers, and as long as Israel refuses to cease settlement activities and to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with our agreements, they leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of those agreements,” Abbas said Wednesday in an address to the opening of the annual UN General Assembly.
“We therefore declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due to address the General Assembly on Thursday, maintains that Israel complies with previous agreements and that there is no agreement inhibiting settlement growth.
Abbas did not say when or how the Palestinians would withdraw from agreements, nor did he say he would dissolve the Palestinian Authority, which is a product of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
“We will start the implementation of this declaration by all peaceful and legal means,” he said.
The most far-reaching withdrawal would involve the Palestinian Authority pulling out of governing the most populous areas of the West Bank and ceasing co-operation with Israeli security forces.
Abbas sought to revive talks toward two states, implicitly rejecting one-state solutions advanced by some in the Israeli government and some radical Palestinian groups.
“I say to our neighbours, the Israeli people, that peace is in your interest, our interest, and in the interest of our future generations,” he told the world body.
Abbas pledged to continue to seek state recognition in international bodies, something Israel and the United States oppose absent peace talks.
He also accused Netanyahu’s government of colluding with Jewish extremists who seek to stake a claim to the Temple Mount, the Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims that is now under the control of a Muslim religious authority.
“I call on the Israeli government, before it is too late, to cease its use of brutal force to impose its plans to undermine the Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem, particularly its actions at Al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.
Tensions over Palestinian claims that Jews are intruding on Muslim claims to the Temple Mount have in recent weeks escalated into violence. Netanyahu says Israel is observing the status quo and blames Abbas for inciting the violence.
“Abu Mazen’s speech was deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said in a statement released soon after the speech, using Abbas’ nickname.
Also Wednesday, the United Nations for the first time raised the Palestinian flag, a move opposed by Israel and the United States.