Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, stating that the Palestinian people would continue to pursue full membership at the United Nations.
Abbas began his speech with a strongly worded criticism of Israel's policies, calling the settlements "racist settler colonization" of Palestinian land. He said, "We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, our children, schools and houses."
He said the settlers' attacks were an inherent byproduct of a "racist culture" fostered by the Israeli government, protected by discriminatory laws and by the security apparatus which excused the settlers' crimes.
Labeling the occupation of Jerusalem "ethnic cleansing," Abbas accused the Israeli government of trying to change the character of the city and preventing Palestinians from accessing its schools, hospitals and mosques. He also said Israel had continued its suffocating blockade of the Gaza Strip and continued raids and attacks.
Abbas said that Israel's overall policy seemed to be to undermine the Palestinian National Authority's existence and reject the two state solution. "The Israeli government aims to continue its occupation of Jerusalem and its de facto annexation of large territories," he said.
The plans put forward by Israel would leave Palestinians in small enclaves surrounded by large Israeli settlements and blockades, Abbas said. "We categorically reject it because it will not bring about peace," he said. "Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe, a new nakba."
Abbas stressed that the Palestinian Authority was committed to non-violence, and rejected terrorism. "We realize that ultimately the two peoples must co-exist, each in their respective state in the Holy Land," he said. "There is still a chance, maybe the last, to save the two state solution, to salvage peace."
He called for an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and the 1967 borders, saying it was the right of the Palestinian people.
Abbas also said, "We will continue our efforts to obtain full membership for Palestine at the United Nations." He called upon the UN to adopt a resolution that would consider Palestine a non-member state of the United Nations. "In our endeavor, we do not seek to delegitimize an existing state, that is Israel. We are not attempting to delegitimize them, they are trying to delegitimize us."
After describing the devastating results of the Palestinian exodus of 1948, which was known as the Nakba, Abbas said, "We shall not allow a new nakba to happen." He stressed, "There is no homeland for us except Palestine... We shall not accept an alternative homeland or land."
Abbas concluded, "Our people are determined to continue peaceful, popular resistance... against the occupation, against settler occupation, for the sake of freedom, independence and peace.