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Abbas at UN: Settler surge 'destroying' hope for peace

Abbas urged countries to recognise Palestine in his General Assembly address [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 September, 2016

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The Palestinian president on Thursday said Israel's escalating construction of settler homes in the occupied territories was undermining any hopes of a peaceful solution
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said Israel's settler surge is destroying any hope of a two-state solution.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Abbas urged countries to recognise Palestine as a state and offered the hand of peace – while at the same time criticising Israel’s encroachment on the occupied territories.

"What the Israeli government is doing in pursuit of its expansionist settlement plans will destroy whatever possibility is left for the two-state solution along the 1967 borders," Abbas said.

The Palestinian leader said his officials would "exert all efforts" to encourage the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on settlements and the "terror of the settlers".

US President Barack Obama also voiced concern over the expansion of settlements in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls for a halt to settlement expansion, claiming that the residential projects are not an obstacle to peace.

He recently claimed opposition to settlements was "ethnic cleansing".

The Security Council declared Israeli settlements in occupied territory to be illegal in a resolution adopted in 1979.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told the Security Council in August that Israeli settlement expansion had surged in the past two months.

The recent report by the diplomatic Quartet – the European Union, Russia, the UN and the United States – said construction of settlements on land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state is eroding the possibility of a two-state solution.

"Those who believe in the two-state solution should recognise both states, and not just one of them," said Abbas, who has been president for 11 years.

"We extend our hands to those who want to build peace. But the question remains and persists: is there any leadership in Israel, the occupying power, that desires to make a true peace?" he asked.

"It is Israel's breach of the agreements it has signed and its failure to comply with the obligations that have led us to the deadlock and stalemate that we remain in now."

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