Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday accused Israel of sabotaging U.S. efforts to broker peace and said that Israeli security operations at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem could lead to a religious war.In an address to the United Nations General Assembly before a ceremony for the raising of the Palestinian flag at U.N. headquarters in New York, Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority no longer considered itself bound by the accords signed with Israel in the mid-1990s.Reiterating what the Palestinian Authority has been saying for at least half a decade, Abbas said the agreements would not apply as long as Israel supports settlements of Israelis in the West Bank and refuses to release Palestinian prisoners. “You are all aware that Israel undermined the efforts made by the administration of President Barack Obama in past years, most recently the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry aimed at reaching a peace agreement through negotiations,” Abbas told the 193-nation General Assembly.White House spokesman Josh Earnest said after Abbas spoke that the United States remains committed to the peace process and two-state solution for Israeli and Palestinian nations.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in response that Abbas’ speech was “deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East.”
“We expect and call on the (Palestinian) Authority and its leader to act responsibly and accede to the proposal of … Israel and enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions,” it said, adding that Abbas “does not intend to reach a peace agreement.”But Palestinian political analyst Hani al-Masri told Reuters that Abbas’ speech was disappointing and showed “undecidedness, confusion and a lack of options.””His speech is a repeat of old positions and there was nothing new,” he added. “There were no bombshells, not even any fireworks.”Obama, whose relations with Netanyahu have been strained, addressed the assembly on Monday but did not mention Israel or the Palestinians, an unusual omission.
Abbas praised French efforts to revive stalled peace negotiations and called for a national unity government that would unite the fractious Palestinian political scene. “We are determined to preserve the unity of our land and our people,” Abbas said. “We seek to form a national unity government that functions according to the program of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and we seek to hold presidential and legislative elections.”Abbas’ Fatah controls the West Bank, while …Read More