United Nations, Sept. 23 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him immediately in the United Nations -- an offer delivered minutes after Abbas gave a harsh, distorted, hate-filled address to the U.N. General Assembly.
“I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner for peace,” the Israeli prime minister said, after Abbas presented a bid for full membership in the United Nations. “We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace.”
“Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today, in the United Nations. Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us?
“Let’s listen to one another. I’ll tell you my concerns. You’ll tell me yours, and with God’s help we’ll find a common ground for peace. I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you.”
At the end of an eventful day, the Mideast Quartet of the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations issued a joint statement calling on the parties to return to negotiations without preconditions and to reach peace quickly.
It proposed convening a preparatory meeting within a month to lay out the agenda and timeframe for a final agreement, which would be not later than the end of 2012.
“The Quartet expects the parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and to have made substantial progress within six months. To that end, the Quartet will convene an international conference in Moscow, in consultation with the parties, at the appropriate time,” the statement said.
Earlier Friday, Abbas submitted his application for U.N. membership knowing that he lacked the votes to bring the matter to the Security Council. He said he was armed with only their hopes and dreams – which brought a quick response from Netanyahu.
“Yes, hopes and dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran,” Netanyahu said, referring to the vast arsenal of weapons built up by Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza and frequently fired at Israeli civilians.
The speeches of the two leaders presented a stark contrast. Abbas blamed the failure of the peace process entirely on Israel. He said he would not return to negotiations unless Israel froze building in the territories. Israel is ready to renew negotiations immediately – without preconditions.
Abbas shocked many observers with the harshness of his speech. He stated that the future Palestine should include East Jerusalem, including the city’s Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. And he called for a return to the 1967 lines – which security experts say are impossible to defend.
Abbas also mentioned that he came from the Holy Land, a place holy to Muslims and Christians. He totally omitted any mention of Jewish links to the land of the Bible.
In his 40-minute speech, Abbas also said he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He condemned the security fence that has saved countless lives, both Palestinian and Jewish, as a “racist annexation wall.” He called for the release of terrorists held in Israeli jails.
He even condemned archaeology that has uncovered much evidence of the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea.
Netanyahu recalled that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, as urged by the international community. “We didn’t freeze settlements in Gaza. We uprooted them,” he said.
“We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We bulldozed synagogues. We even uprooted loved ones from their graves. And having done that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas. We didn’t get peace. We got Iran. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day.”
Abbas praised his “reconciliation” with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. He condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza but did not mention the thousands of rockets fired from that territory at Israeli civilians.
Despite his harsh rhetoric, Abbas does not have the votes to pass his resolution. The United States, Germany, Italy and many other key nations oppose granting Palestinian statehood without negotiations with Israel – the only way to reach a final peace agreement.
“This was a counterproductive and harsh speech that offered nothing to Israelis,” said former National Security Council official Richard Haas. “It was a very disappointing speech.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is now negotiating for the Middle East Quartet, said, “You can pass whatever resolution you like at the United Nations, or at the Security Council, and it doesn't actually deliver you a state. And if you don't have a negotiation, whatever you do at the U.N. is going to be deeply confrontational.”