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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

'Jerusalem is not for sale' Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tells the UN

UN General Assembly: Mr Abbas speaks amid confusion of US plan for peace

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations. AFP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations. AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly in a week where the United States sent mixed signals about their plan for peace between Israel and Palestine.

"Jerusalem is not for sale," he told the UN in the opening seconds of his speech, prompting applause from the audience.

The Palestinian President then launched into a strong criticism of Israel's nation-state law, the US's support of Israel and the UN's lack of enforcement of the resolutions it passes.

Mr Abbas said Palestinians "see the US with new eyes" following President Donald Trump's recent support of Israel.

Mr Abbas called on the international community to condemn the US's actions, including shutting of PLO offices, defunding UNRWA and moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

The right to self-determination, not humanitarian aid, is Palestine's priority, Mr Abbas said, emphasising the state is always open to negotiate.

Calling for the countries who do not recognise both Palestine and Israel as a state, Mr Abbas said: "I thus call upon all the countries of the world that have not yet recognised the State of Palestine to accelerate this long-overdue recognition.

"I can no longer see a convincing reason for the continued delay of recognition of the State of Palestine by some countries."

Mr Abbas said recognition will help give Palestine authority in negotiations, and that it no longer sees the US as neutral in negotiations.

Yesterday, Donald Trump endorsed a two-state solution and then hours later said he had no preference on the nature of a peace deal.

“I like (a) two-state solution," Mr Trump said at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "That's what I think works best. That's my feeling. Now you may have a different feeling. I don't think so. But I think two-state solution works best.”

Later, at a solo press conference, Mr Trump said, "I think probably two-state is more likely, but you know what, if they do a single, if they do a double, I'll be happy.”

Watch the UN General Assembly live here:

Mr Abbas' speech comes after a year of heightened tension between Palestine and Israel, largely exacerbated by the actions of Mr Trump's administration. Mr Netanyahu is expected to speak shortly after Mr Abbas.

In May, Mr Trump said he would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the US embassy to the city, prompting protests from Palestinians.

Since then, every Friday there have been protests on the border of Palestine. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military in the protests, and one Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

The US cut its funding for UNRWA, the Palestinian relief agency, to $60 million from a promised $350 million this year. UNRWA funds essential services for displaced Palestinians, including schools.

Mr Trump also closed the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's office in Washington last month.

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Read more:

Why Mahmoud Abbas needs to seize the moment at the UN General Assembly

Donald Trump says 'one state is OK, two states is OK too,' hours after two-state commitment

Palestinians welcome Trump's endorsement of two-state solution