Palestinian leader Abbas tells UN there can be no Mideast peace without his people enjoying full rights

AP  /  September 21, 2023

UNITED NATIONS – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that there can be no peace in the Middle East without his people enjoying their “full and legitimate national rights.”

It was the closest he came in a nearly 25-minute address to acknowledging U.S.-led negotiations aimed at getting Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel. The Saudis have said such a deal must include major progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state, something Israel’s far-right government has all but ruled out.

“Those who think that peace can prevail in the Middle East without the Palestinian people enjoying their full and legitimate national rights are mistaken,” Abbas said at the start of his address to the U.N.

The 87-year-old Palestinian leader’s speech largely resembled those he has delivered in past sessions. He accused Israel of a litany of violations against Palestinian rights and called for an international conference to revive the peace process.

He said the Israeli occupation of lands the Palestinians want for a future state “challenges more than a thousand resolutions, violates the principles of international law and international legitimacy, while racing to change the historical, geographical and demographic reality on the ground.”

The Israeli delegation walked out of the hall early in his address, when he spoke about Israel’s practice of holding the remains of alleged Palestinian attackers.

There have been no serious or substantive peace talks in over a decade. Abbas is deeply unpopular among Palestinians, many of whom view his Palestinian Authority as a corrupt pillar of the status quo.