(JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his U.N. address blasted Israel as seeking to end the two-state solution but tamped down any plans to seek statehood unilaterally.
Describing what he said were "racist" attacks by settlers on Palestinians in collusion with the Israeli government, Abbas told the General Assembly on Thursday that he has reached the conclusion "that the Israeli government rejects the two-state solution."
He said, however, that Palestinians remain ready to negotiate a two-state solution.
"We do not seek to delegitimize an existing state, that is, Israel," Abbas said.
Abbas suggested that his bid to seek Palestinian state recognition at last year’s General Assembly had scored a success with the full-fledged Palestinian representation to UNESCO, the science and culture affiliate of the United Nations.
This year, however, Abbas said that instead of seeking full Palestinian statehood recognition throughout the U.N. Security Council , he would seek the body’s affirmation of statehood as an outcome of negotiations and continue to seek the status of the Vatican — non-member state — at the General Assembly.
Abbas said at least three times that the Palestine Liberation Organization was the sole representative of the Palestinian people, an implied rebuke to Hamas, which still controls the Gaza Strip.
He affirmed Palestine as the historic homeland of three faiths — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — a nod to Jewish anger when he omitted Jewish claims to the land in his speech last year.
Abbas has suspended peace talks with Israel since October 2010, saying it must again freeze settlement expansion before he returns to the table, as Israel did for 10 months that year.
In his own speech following Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chided the PA president for delivering a "libelous" speech and urged him to return to talks toward establishing a "demilitarized Palestinian state."