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Abbas seeks alternatives if two-state solution remains under threat

The Palestinian leader vowed to push for full recognition of statehood at the UN [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 September, 2017

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Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared he would "look for alternatives" if the two-state solution was in jeopardy.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared on Wednesday he would "look for alternatives" if the two-state solution was in jeopardy.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Abbas slammed Israel over the construction of new settlements "everywhere", adding they were putting the two-state solution in jeopardy.

Taking the podium a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Abbas called for an end to the "apartheid" that he said Israel had imposed on the Palestinians.

"There is no place left for the state of Palestine and this is not acceptable," he said in a nearly 45 minute speech.

"We will have to take steps or look for alternatives to preserve our national existence and to keep open the horizons for peace and security," he said.

"We will have no choice but to continue the struggle and demand full rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine," he added.

"If the two-state solution were to be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems - apartheid - ... this would be failure," Abbas said.

"Can the world accept an apartheid regime in the 21st century?" he asked.

"Can the world accept an apartheid regime in the 21st century?"

He then called upon the United Nations to "actively pursue efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine within a set time frame."

Quoting Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and a staunch supporter of Palestinian statehood, Abbas told the assembly that the international community must do for the Palestinians what was achieved for South Africa.

"We are entrusted and you are entrusted to end apartheid in Palestine," he said.

The United Nations considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law and has repeatedly called for a halt to their expansion on land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state.

In December, the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to the construction of Jewish outposts in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The resolution passed after the United States under the previous administration of Barack Obama declined to use its veto and instead abstained, angering then president-elect Trump.

Toughest peace deal off all

Trump has distanced himself from the decades-old stance of previous administrations in support of a two-state solution and has said it will be up to the parties to decide on the outcome of a negotiated settlement.

Seeking to step up the pressure on Israel, Abbas called on the United Nations to release a list drawn up by its human rights council of Israeli firms doing business in the Israeli settlements that could trigger a boycott.

The Palestinian leader vowed to push for full recognition of statehood at the United Nations, a move that would require approval from the Security Council where the United States, Israel's key ally, holds veto power.

Five years ago, the Palestinians were upgraded to non-member observer status at the United Nations, which falls short of full membership in the world body.

Abbas spoke at the assembly after meeting Trump, who said he was "working very hard with everybody involved toward peace" but offered little detail.

The US president confidently declared that there was a "pretty good shot - maybe the best shot ever " to make a deal even as he acknowledged that peace between Israel and the Palestinians was "the toughest of all".

Trump's aides - led by his Middle East envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner and senior international negotiations aide Jason Greenblatt - have been ferrying between leaders from the two sides in recent months.

At the meeting with Trump, Abbas said some 20 meetings held so far between the Palestinians and the new US administration showed "the seriousness" of Trump's peace effort.

The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has been comatose since 2014 when a US push collapsed.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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