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Normalisation with Israel 'violates' any 'just and lasting solution,' warns Abbas

Palestinian president's General Assembly address calls on UN secretary general to arrange international conference on peace process
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly on 25 September (screen shot)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the recent US-backed decisions made by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalise diplomatic ties with Israel, calling the moves a "violation" of a "just and lasting solution under international law". 

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday, Abbas asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to sidestep the US's efforts by arranging an international conference on the peace process, which should take place "early next year" between "all relevant parties". 

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"The conference should have full authority to launch a genuine peace process based on international law," Abbas said in his pre-recorded address. 

"It should aim to end the occupation and grant the Palestinian people their freedom and independence in their own state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and settle final-status issues, notably the refugee question." 

Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office more than 10 years ago, there have not been any substantial peace talks between Israel and Palestine, as leadership remains fiercely divided over core issues.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration's attempts to push the so-called "deal of the century" have failed to gain traction. 

Normalisation gains momentum

The Palestinian leadership has for decades insisted that official diplomacy between Arab states and Israel should begin only after an independent Palestinian state has been established. 

"It is delusional to think that the Palestinian people could be sidelined," Abbas said on Friday. 

Still, Abbas's appeal comes as the US campaign to normalise such ties begins to gain momentum. 

Earlier this month, in a break with the status quo, the UAE and Bahrain agreed to recognise Israel in an official capacity, seen as a major foreign policy win for US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

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The Trump administration has been working on the campaign for months, hoping the initiative will further isolate Iran. 

"You should all know that there can be no peace, no security, no stability or coexistence in our region without an end to the occupation and without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian question," Abbas warned.

On Wednesday, Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the UN, said the US is expecting at least one other Arab country to begin the normalisation process in the next few days. 

"We will have more being announced very soon," Craft said. 

Oman, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan all turned down the US attempt to push normalisation during Pompeo's regional tour last month, but some expect Khartoum and Muscat may be looking for ways to backtrack on their positions. 

Highlighting the administration's goals for more support, on Wednesday Craft said: "Obviously, we would welcome Saudi Arabia to be next."