J Street welcomed much of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech today at the United Nations General Assembly that urgently called for renewed, serious efforts to advance a two-state solution. However, as in past years, we were disturbed by some of the rhetoric in his speech.
The hyperbole and one-sided accusations Abbas employed will not help move the parties closer to productive talks. While Abbas again raised the issue of full Palestinian membership in the United Nations, we reiterate that universal recognition of Palestinian statehood can only come about through a negotiated resolution — not action at the UN or any other international organization.
Even so, much of President Abbas’s speech marked an improvement over those of President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu. We welcome his explicit endorsement of a two-state solution and openness to compromises on a number of final-status issues — including borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
Abbas’s speech also contained an important warning about the costs — for Israelis and Palestinians alike — of continued international inaction towards resolving the conflict. Abbas cautioned that the world will not tolerate the occupation indefinitely. He made clear that the ongoing deterioration on the ground makes it increasingly difficult to keep extremists at bay, and makes a two-state solution harder to achieve.
We urge Trump and Netanyahu to demonstrate that they share Abbas’s stated commitment to achieving a two-state solution, and Abbas to refrain from further counterproductive steps and rhetoric. Only then can we realize the peaceful and secure future that Israelis and Palestinians deserve.