Palestinian Leader at UN: 'Israeli Government Rejects the Two-State Solution'

Michael W. Chapman | September 27, 2022 | 2:30pm EDT
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Israeli PM Yair Lapid, left, and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Getty Images)
Israeli PM Yair Lapid, left, and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- Although Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the U.N. General Assembly that he supports a two-state solution -- one for Israelis, one for Palestinians -- the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, said the continual persecution of Palestinians, especially through Israeli settlements, and restrictions on movement and economic development confirm that the "Israeli Government rejects the two-state solution." 

On Sept. 22, Lapid told the U.N., "An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children. ... Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two state solution. I am one of them."

However, Abbas spoke to the U.N. on Sept. 23 and listed many of the actions the Israeli government takes that make such a solution an apparent impossibility.

"Developments over the past year have confirmed what we have persistently drawn attention to and warned of: the catastrophic danger of the racist Israeli settlement of our country, Palestine," said Abbas. "During the past months, attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of this year. We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, and our homes and schools...."

These attacks should surprise no one, he said, because they are the "inherent byproduct of the continuation of occupation and a government policy that deliberately fosters the settlements and settlers and deems their satisfaction to be an absolute priority."

The settlement campaign is focused on Jerusalem and its environs, Abbas added. "It is a campaign clearly and deliberately aimed at altering the City’s historic character and the glorious image of the Holy City etched in the minds of humankind. It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes and prevention of their construction; the revocation of residency rights; the denial of basic services, especially with regard to construction of schools; the closure of institutions; and the impoverishment of Jerusalem’s community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are choking the City and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and markets."

These actions, among others cited by Abbas, lead to one conclusion: "that the Israeli government rejects the two-state solution," the Palestinian leader said.

He continued, "The two-State solution, i.e. the State of Palestine coexisting alongside the State of Israel, represents the spirit and essence of the historic compromise embodied in the Oslo Declaration of Principles, the agreement signed 19 years ago between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Government of Israel under the auspices of the United States of America on the White House Lawn, a compromise by which the Palestinian people accepted to establish their State on only 22% of the territory of historic Palestine for the sake of making peace."

"The recent years have actually witnessed the systematic acceleration and intensification of Israeli measures aimed at emptying the Oslo Accords of their meaning, while simultaneously building facts on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that are making the implementation of the Accords extremely difficult if not completely impossible," said Abbas. 

On the ground, Israel is shaping a map and borders that allow only "small Palestinian enclaves surrounded by large Israeli settlement blocs and walls, checkpoints, and vast security zones and roads devoted to the settlers. Thus, the enclaves would remain subject to the full dominance of military, colonial occupation, only packaged under new names, such as the unilateral plan for a so-called State with provisional borders."

"Israel refuses to end the occupation and refuses to allow the Palestinian people to attain their rights and freedom and rejects the independence of the State of Palestine," said Abbas. "Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe, a new Nakba."

The Nakba refers to the "mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine during Israel’s creation (1947-49)," according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding. At least 750,000 Arabs were expelled or forced to flee. In addition, there were massacres of Palestinians, such as the killing of 100 men, women, and children "in the town of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, by members of the Irgun and Stern Gang, pre-state Zionist terrorist organizations," reported the Institute. 

Abbas, on several occasions, said the Palestinian people have "real feelings of anger," "disappointment and loss of hope" over the continuing occupation. However, he emphasized that "ultimately the two peoples must live and coexist, each in their respective State, in the Holy Land. Further, we realize that progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO and Israel."

Abbas also said that a State of Palestine must include East Jerusalem as its capital and the "entire territory occupied by Israel since 1967." Territory taken by Israeli forces in the 1967 war include the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.  

Israel officially disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but it has maintained a blockade on the territory and the fishing waters there in the Mediterranean, as well as the air space. John Holmes, the former chief of Humanitarian Affairs at the U.N., described Gaza as "a kind of open-air prison."

In his conclusion, Abbas said, "The independence and freedom of the State of Palestine is above all and ultimately a sacred right of the Palestinian people and an entitlement that must be realized for it has been long overdue for too many decades. ... [T]he Israeli occupation remains the only obstacle to the realization of the State of Palestine.

In his U.N. speech on Sept. 22, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that in pursuit of a two-state solution, he has one condition: "That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being, and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times."

In his remarks, Abbas said, in the name of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, reaffirm, without hesitation, that we are as committed to peace and international legitimacy and its covenants and its resolutions as we are adherent to our inalienable national rights and aspirations, and we reaffirm that we are committed to non-violence and reject terrorism in all its forms, particularly State terrorism."

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