Abbas’ UN speech labeled ‘diplomatic terrorism’
The United States on Friday slammed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the United Nations, saying it was “offensive” and undermined peace efforts.
“President Abbas’ speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties,” she said.
In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Abbas demanded an end to occupation, accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in Gaza and asserted that Palestinians faced a future in a “most abhorrent form of apartheid” under Israeli rule.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also blasted Abbas, accusing him of “diplomatic terrorism” and saying his remarks “highlight once again how he does not want and cannot be a partner for a reasonable diplomatic agreement.”
In the speech, Abbas stopped short of saying he would pursue war crimes charges against Israel.
“This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment,” Abbas said. The devastation unleashed, he asserted, “is unmatched in modern times.”
While the Palestinian president spoke forcefully, appearing visibly angry at times, the address was short on specifics. He did not offer his own deadline for an Israeli withdrawal, as some had predicted, nor did he say anything about joining the International Criminal Court as his aides have repeatedly said he is prepared to do.
And while he signaled he would seek accountability for alleged war crimes by Israel against Palestinians during this summer’s 50-day war in Gaza, he made no mention of taking the case to the International Criminal Court.
“We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment,” Abbas said in his 30-minute address.
Israel launched thousands of airstrikes against what it said were Hamas-linked targets in Gaza, while Gaza militants fired several thousand rockets at Israel. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority civilians, and some 18,000 homes were destroyed, according to U.N. figures. Sixty-six soldiers and six civilians were killed on the Israeli side.