Netanyahu challenges ‘deceitful’ Abbas ahead of UN address today


Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech yesterday at the United Nations General Assmbly (UNGA) “deceitful” and said that he plans to respond during his own address at the gathering today.

Abbas accused Israel of “destruction of the two-state solution” and consequently announced that the PA would no longer be bound by the Oslo Accords, the 1990s peace agreements with Israel. In response, Netanyahu said that Abbas’s address was “deceitful, encourages incitement and disaster in the Middle East.” He urged Abbas “to act responsibly and accept the offer… to hold direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions,” adding “The fact that he time and again has not responded is the best proof there is that he has no intention of reaching a peace agreement.”

Netanyahu himself will address the UNGA this evening. Before leaving for New York, Netanyahu said “I will … tell the nations of the world the truth about Israel, about our country.” He pledged to address Palestinian “incitement” and in particular the “crude lies” over the recent tension at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which Abbas yesterday blamed on Israel. Netanyahu is also expected to raise the danger of Iranian aggression and Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Meanwhile, opposition leader and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog also criticised Abbas’ speech, saying that his accusations will only fuel extremism, while Zionist Union colleague Tzipi Livni commented, “The time has come for the Palestinian leadership to realize that a Palestinian state can only arise through agreements.” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid accused Abbas of “terrible words of incitement” before the UN.

Also yesterday, the Quartet (US, UN, EU and Russia) held a rare meeting on the side lines of the UNGA. In a statement, they recognised Israel’s recent steps to ease restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza. However, in a bid to change the status quo, the Quartet said that a regional approach must be taken to forge a two-state solution.