The United Nations must condemn Israel's “racist settler colonization” of Palestinian territories if any hope of a peace agreement between the two can be salvaged, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations on Thursday.
“There is a chance — maybe the last — to save the two-state solution and maybe to salvage peace,” Abbas said. But he said the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and acts of violence by Israeli settlers — he counted more than 500 since the beginning of the year — risk “dealing a final blow to an already dying peace process.”
Abbas received a standing ovation from a world body that has long sided with the Palestinians over Israel. As expected, Abbas said he would once again push for the U.N. to recognize Palestine as a state, an effort that was derailed by the Obama administration's opposition last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the podium soon after and denounced Abbas's speech, saying that peace between Israel and Palestinians cannot be achieved through "libelous" statements at the U.N. or “unilateral declarations of statehood."
The dueling speeches come as peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have bogged down over the issue of settlements and whether to rely on Israel's pre-1967 borders when drawing up the two states.