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WATCH: Palestinian President Abbas demands independence at the U.N.

UNITED NATIONS — In an eloquent and at times emotional address to the General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called upon the world to recognize the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state. “I come,” he said, “…to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of the ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence.”

The Palestinian leader seemed to be evoking the late Yitzhak Rabin’s 1993 speech, in which the assassinated Israeli prime minister said,

“Enough of blood and tears. Enough. We have no desire for revenge. We harbor no hatred towards you. We, like you, are people who want to build a home, to plant a tree, to love, live side by side with you in dignity, in empathy, as human beings, as free men. We are today giving peace a chance and again saying to you in a clear voice: Enough.”

Continuing in this visionary, statesman-like mode, President Abbas quoted the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Mr. Abbas said that his people wanted “to exercise their right to enjoy a normal life like the rest of humanity.” More concretely, the president identified Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as the “primary cause for the failure of the peace process,” adding, “The occupation is racing against time to redraw the borders on our land according to what it wants and to impose a fait accompli on the ground that changes the realities and that is undermining the realistic potential for the existence of the State of Palestine.”

President Abbas assured his listeners that the Palestinians were not in the business of de-legitimizing Israel. “Our efforts,” he said, “Are not aimed at isolating Israel or de-legitimizing it; rather we want to gain legitimacy for the cause of the people of Palestine.” Almost as if he were pleading the justice of his cause, Mr. Abbas detailed the Palestinian Authority’s investment in state building – in creating a civil society, judicial and ministerial accountability, transparency, women’s rights and the rule of law.

On Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, he said:

The time has come for our men, women and children to live normal lives, for them to be able to sleep without waiting for the worst that the next day will bring; for mothers to be assured that their children will return home without fear of suffering killing, arrest or humiliation; for students to be able to go to their schools and universities without checkpoints obstructing them.  The time has come for sick people to be able to reach hospitals normally, and for our farmers to be able to take care of their good land without fear of the occupation seizing the land and its water, which the wall prevents access to, or fear of the settlers, for whom settlements are being built on our land and who are uprooting and burning the olive trees that have existed for hundreds of years.  The time has come for the thousands of prisoners to be released from the prisons to return to their families and their children to become a part of building their homeland, for the freedom of which they have sacrificed.

As Mr. Abbas warmed to his theme of seeking basic and long-denied rights for the Palestinian people, the UN translator’s voice sounded choked with emotion; another translator replaced her in a seamless-but-obvious transition.

Mahmoud Abbas submits application for UN membership to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe)

The president received two standing ovations and many rounds of applause – particularly when he confirmed that he had delivered that morning the letter requesting recognition of Palestinian statehood to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Negotiations, the president said, had proved futile. The Palestinians had been negotiating for 18 years, since the Oslo Accords were signed in the Rose Garden of the White House, yet Israel had continued to build its settlements on the land that was supposed to be for a Palestinian state.

Negotiations were pointless as long as settlement building and expansion continued, said Mr. Abbas. Pre-empting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s invitation to ‘start negotiating immediately’, Mr. Abbas said, “It is futile to go into negotiations without clear parameters and in the absence of credibility and a specific timetable.”

“At a time when the Arab peoples affirm their quest for democracy – the Arab Spring – the time is now for the Palestinian Spring, the time for independence,” he said.

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Watch the speech here:

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Israelis who oppose this can’t have an easy time reconciling the obvious contradictions… As a kid in Israel, I was told the UN vote to allow an Israeli state was a historic occasion. Finally, the glorious day came when the world realized its errors. We even memorized the names of the evil countries that opposed Israeli independence.

      Watching history repeats itself with the beneficiaries of the previous vote saying the UN will be irrelevant if it votes to let Palestine in is absurd.

      Fortunately for these people, after so many years of lying to themselves, dismissing the UN and waiting for Obama’s veto is only natural.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bosko

      Mr. Abbas said, “It is futile to go into negotiations without clear parameters and in the absence of credibility and a specific timetable.”
      .
      If you have a time table then all Mr Abbas has to do is to dig in, not compromise on anything and voila, when the time is up, he can just claim: “The time is up, where is my state … ?” And that’s exactly what he has done after Obama’s silly gaffe last year in which he dangled the possibility of an independent Palestine within one year.
      .
      Now, here is what could have and should have happened many years ago …
      .
      Both parties, should have negotiated in good faith and made compromises. That way, an independent Palestinian state could have been a reality a decade ago. That would have been the best way to curtail the “settlements” by reaching a mutually agreed solution based on compromise not by holding onto demands like the right of return yet at the same time expecting Israel to compromise. The Palestinians could have had their state as early as 2000, 2001 or 2008 if they too would have been willing to compromise.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Hostage

      Bosko you and the Quartet only make yourselves look morbid when you suggest that freedom or justice should be delayed or placed on a timetable.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Bosko

      Did I suggest a time table? I suggested a compromise solution. But I did say that the Palestinian Arabs have to compromise too. Not just Israel. There is no room for the right of return.
      .
      Read what I actually said, Hostage. And don’t just demand justice for one party. BOTH parties have the right for justice.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Historian

      I didn’t think his speech evoked Rabin at all. Not even close. I thought Rabin spoke of true peace and a desire for reconciliation that would allow each side to live independent of fear. In his speech, Abbas was careful to blame only Israel for all Palestinian ills, and not to suggest any form of reconciliation other than that they “aren’t trying to delegitimize Israel.” This after he blamed Israel for ethnic cleansing. Also, there were many parts of his speech that were simply untrue, or included key omissions like his refusal to move forward on Olmert’s offer. I can’t square any of that with Rabin.

      The Palestinians are trying to do an end run around the hard task of negotiating and compromising. They want their cake and then they want to be able to keep going after even more cake. Let’s hope the bakery won’t allow it. Like everyone else, they need to bring some money to the store. Wanting something really badly isn’t enough.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Palestinian

      @ Historian , didnt Israel ethnically cleansed villages and cities in Palestine ? change your history books

      Reply to Comment
    7. Bosko

      A very intetesting admission by a prominent Arab leader …
      .
      “In this interview with the BBC he admits that in 1948 he was instructed by Hussein Khalidi, a prominent Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate claims of atrocities at Deir Yassin in order to encourage Arab regimes to invade the expected Jewish state.  He made this damming admission in explaining why the Arabs failed in the 1948 war.  He said “this was our biggest mistake”, because Palestinians fled in terror and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims”
      .
      http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/deir_yassin.html
      .
      And here is the video where he makes his admission …
      .
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkhSHiwzaIY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bosko

      A very intetesting admission by a prominent Arab leader ..
      .
      “In this interview with the BBC he admits that in 1948 he was instructed by Hussein Khalidi, a prominent Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate claims of atrocities at Deir Yassin in order to encourage Arab regimes to invade the expected Jewish state.  He made this damming admission in explaining why the Arabs failed in the 1948 war.  He said “this was our biggest mistake”, because Palestinians fled in terror and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims”
      .
      http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/deir_yassin.html
      .
      And here is the video where he makes his admission …
      .
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkhSHiwzaIY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      Reply to Comment
    9. Deïr Yassin

      Bosko, our Aussie hasbara troll, has already posted the link on the “non-existing massacre” at Deir Yassin on various occasions in the past. Particularly under his former pen name “Right Wing Zionist”.
      Even Begin recognized that a massacre took place at Deir Yassin, and Swiss Jacques de Reynier, the leader of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who arrived immediately after the massacre has published his testimonies in “A Jerusalem un Drapeau flottait sur la ligne de feu” (1950).
      All Israeli historians, even guys like Yoav Gelber, have acknowledged that a massacre took place in Deir Yassin, and the rumours were in fact primarily spread by the Zionists in order to make the Palestinians flee.
      Just as Jenin 2002, the Zionists initially exagerated the number of casualties, and later accused the Palestinians of lying when the number diminished. In Deir Yassin, not 250, but around 100 civilians were killed, and in that perspective, Tantura and other massacres were more important. The massacre of Deir Yassin is emblematic for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, though, and for the fact that a mental hospital has been installed in the few buildings remaining from the Palestinian village. The ‘syndrome of Jerusalem’ and ethnocentric paranoia seem to be the main pathologies healed there.
      Bosko is in fact a negationnist. Why don’t he go join his anti-semitic pals on neo-nazi blogs !

      Reply to Comment
    10. Deïr Yassin

      Sorry, I forgot to mention that Maurice Ostroff that Bosko links to, introduce himself as “a founder member of the international coalition of Hasbara volunteers”:
      http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/id3.html
      Roger Cukierman, the leader of CRIF (the French AIPAC) to Haaretz, september 2001: “When Ariel Sharon came to France, I told him that he must absolutely create a Ministry of Propaganda, like Goebbels”. Ostroff and Bosko are both volunteers in that army of disinformation.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Bosko

      Deir Yassin
      .
      Nobody denies that people got killed in Deir Yassin. The big lie was that women got raped and that it was in cold blood and large scale. The video clearly shows the Arab speakers admitting to exaggerating and lying about what took place.
      .
      I know that your standard way of denying facts is by claiming that every fact that you don’t like is just Hasbarah. But I am afraid that such excuses by you still don’t change facts. Because facts are facts and the speakers on this video clearly admit that their side lied and that those lies were a miscalculation that backfired on them.
      .
      I know too that in one of our past encounters about this video you tried to claim that the video is just a forgery carried out by cutting and pasting. But anyone knows that such a jub cannot be done without changing every word, syllaBle by syllable. So I will let those who are fluent Arabic speakers judge for themselves what they think. And I invite others who don’t speak Arabic to get trusted translators to give them feedback. Nobody has to trust me because I declare here and now that I am a Zionist and I am biassed in favour of Israel. But I suggest that our Deir Yassin is not a trustworthy soul either because she is equay biassed towards her own people, the Palestinian Arabs.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Philos

      Bosko, even Chaim Herzog (who is as patronizing a historian you can get) wrote that “nationalist elements not approved by the Yishuv” committed atrocities in his book “The Arab-Israeli Wars.” He attempted to ascribe these crimes to the Lehi and Izl and dissociate them from the Haganah which he was a part of. Unfortunately for him Benny Morris was able to reconstruct his incomplete account of the deliberate attack on the Arab civilian population of Haifa which was so blatantly callous the British Army intervened and killed a dozen or so Haganah men. The British intervention may have stopped the Haganah shelling of Palestinian civilians, including the market, but it didn’t prevent the panic and most of Haifa’s residents fled. This is one well documented case out of many. Self-denial of history isn’t progression.

      Furthermore, Bosko, Abbas has conceded a massive concession which is the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines and not according to the original Partition plan. You can do your best to square a circle but it’s still circle. Just like your logic. Get it? circular logic.. hehe ;)

      Reply to Comment
    13. Bosko

      Philos
      Nobody denies that atrocities were committed in 1948 by both sides. But the operative word is BOTH sides. The other question is what caused the exodus of Arab refugees. What that video demonstrates is that the exaggeration of Israeli atrocities contributed to the panic of the Palestinian Arab population. And seeing that you are so proud about proclaiming what your own side did, here, I will see your bid and call you on it. I am aware that there were cases where local Jewish commanders, on their own authority, expelled Arabs from their villages. But that was not policy and such cases were not as large scale as you and your friends pretend. At least that’s what your Benny Morris says. Now put that in your pocket Philos and smoke that.
      .
      By the way, while we are talking about atrocities and flight of civilians. Let’s not forget the Jews of East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion who were ethnically cleansed by the Arab legion and Palestinian irregulars. In the case of Gush Etzion, the Jewish fighters who at the end surrendered, were massacred in cold blood with their hands tied behind their backs. But then again, people like you Philos wouldn’t want to talk too much about such things would you? And if you would, then you would say … “They had it coming to them”, right Philos?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Bosko

      Philos says …
      .
      “Furthermore, Bosko, Abbas has conceded a massive concession which is the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines and not according to the original Partition plan. You can do your best to square a circle but it’s still circle. Just like your logic. Get it? circular logic.. hehe :)”
      .
      You sound triumphant and appreciative of that concesseion? Ok then, accept it. Allow your fellow citizens to be ethnically cleansed again from East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion if you consider that justice.
      .
      No, even better, agitate to get Israel to move back to the partition lines because the poor Arabs have not enough land and they MUST have every inch of land that Jews try to call their own in their ancestral home land. Everyone knows that the Arab peoples suffer from a shortage of land and the greedy Jews own more than they deserve. Disgusgusting …

      Reply to Comment
    15. chela

      Which poem of Darwish was Abbas quoting????

      Reply to Comment
    16. Bosko

      Fascinating attitude of the Palestinian leadership about the refugees. Read all about it below …
      .
      http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Sep-15/148791-interview-refugees-will-not-be-citizens-of-new-state.ashx#axzz1YhaN0cKh
      .
      “There was a time when Palestinian leaders sought to conceal their goal of overrunning the Jewish state in misleading commentary for Western audiences that implied a willingness to accept coexistence with a sovereign Israel. Now, evidently, times have changed and blunt statements are deemed safe to make. A remarkable interview in Lebanon’s Daily Star (September 15, 2011) illustrates the shift. According to Abdullah Abdullah, Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, Palestinians would not all become automatic citizens of any future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. The story reports:
      This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens. Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.
      Abdullah’s willingness to leave Palestinians stateless in camps even in territory under Palestinian authority is spelled out further for anyone who’s missed the point:
      The right of return that Abdullah says is to be negotiated would not only apply to those Palestinians whose origins are within the 1967 borders of the state, he adds. “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

      Reply to Comment

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