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Palestine's Abbas tells UN Israel is destroying two-state solution and doesn't believe in peace

Palestinian president's comments come after Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid says he backs two-state solution
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds up a photo as he speaks at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2022 in New York City.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds up a photo as he speaks at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2022 in New York City (AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, where in his near hour-long speech he said Israel was "destroying" the two-state solution, and lambasted the UN for failing to end Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

"[Israel] has and still is through its current policies, which are premeditated and deliberate, destroying the two-state solution," Abbas said to other world leaders in attendance.

"Israel does not believe in peace. It believes in imposing a status quo by force and by aggression."

The Palestinian leader said that Israel is working towards "making the relationship between the State of Palestine and Israel a relationship between an occupying state and an occupied people, nothing more".

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Abbas's comments are in stark contrast to those of Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who spoke at the UN the day before.

Lapid threw his support behind the two-state solution, a reference which Israeli leaders have generally avoided during the UN assembly.

"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," Lapid said.

Still, despite Lapid's verbal support, prospects for a two-state solution continue to shrink as a result of illegal Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, the intended future home of a Palestinian state.

Nearly 700,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Abbas said on Friday constitutes 25 percent of the West Bank's population.

Earlier this year, Israel's defence minister, Benny Gantz, used the term "entity" to describe a future Palestinian state, rejecting the notion that Israel would accept a fully-fledged state for Palestinians and that his country would return to the borders prior to 1967 - the year Israel occupied the Palestinian Territories of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, following the Six-Day War.

Several international and Israeli human rights groups, as well as experts at the UN, have labelled Israel's treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.

However, despite the increasing number of rights groups labelling Israeli policies as such, the United States and Israel's other western allies have refrained from making any such declarations.

UN is protecting Israel

Using an array of visual aids, Abbas brought up the issues of Israel arresting Palestinian children, Israel's bombardment of Gaza in 2021, which killed more than 250 Palestinians, the raids on Palestinian NGOs, and the attack on the funeral of the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The Palestinian president also criticised the role of the United Nations and its member states, including the US, for protecting Israel from accountability.

'Do you know who is protecting Israel from being held accountable? The United Nations'

- Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president

"Do you know who is protecting Israel from being held accountable? The United Nations. And on top of the United Nations, the most powerful in the United Nations," he said, referring to the US.

"Surprisingly, states like the United States pretend to uphold international law and human rights, while at the same time providing - and I will speak frankly here - providing unlimited support to Israel, protecting Israel from accountability, and assisting Israel to pursue its hostile policies in contempt to the whole international community. "

Palestinians have used international mechanisms to pursue justice numerous times, such as submitting cases to the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice. However, the US and other western countries have often stepped in to argue that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel.

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