Palestinian President Asserts Middle East Peace Hinges on Palestinian Rights at UN Assembly

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In a robust and poignant speech before the UN General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that there can be no lasting peace in the volatile Middle East, absent the full and legitimate national rights of his people. This statement, the most striking of a nearly 25-minute address, seemed to nod to U.S.-led negotiations intended to secure Saudi Arabia’s normalization of its relations with Israel. Yet this type of agreement, Saudi representatives maintain, hinges on significant strides toward formulating a Palestinian state – a prospect Israel’s far-right government seems to have categorically dismissed.

Abbas’ conviction was emphatic and undiluted as he addressed the international gathering. “Those who think that peace can prevail in the Middle East without the Palestinian people enjoying their full and legitimate national rights are mistaken,” he boldly announced.

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Echoing prior addresses, the 87-year-old Palestinian leader levied weighty accusations at Israel for numerous violations of Palestinian rights, lamenting the urgency for an international conference to reinvigorate the stagnant peace process. He highlighted the Israeli occupation of lands desired for a prospective Palestinian state as “challenging more than a thousand resolutions, violating the principles of international law and international legitimacy, while rapidly altering the historical, geographical, and demographic reality on the ground.”

A poignant moment ensued as the Israeli delegation vacated the hall early in his address, specifically, when he broached Israel’s policy of retaining the remains of purported Palestinian aggressors.

The quest for peace in the region remains elusive, as there has been a significant dearth of serious or substantive peace talks in over a decade. Compounding the situation, Abbas himself faces deep unpopularity among Palestinians, with many considering his Palestinian Authority as a corrupt cog in the current status quo.