NEW YORK CITY CITY: Drawing parallels with the US fight for civil rights, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas vowed on Monday to present a new timetable for peace talks with Israel when he addresses world leaders this week.
“I say today to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu: end the occupation, make peace,” Abbas told an audience in New York.
In a passionate address to students in the Cooper Union hall where former US president Abraham Lincoln once called for an end to slavery, Abbas called on the world to “rethink Palestine.”
“The international community has the responsibility to protect our people, living under the terror of settlers, an occupying army,” Abbas said, winning loud applause from a large audience of mixed religions, including Jewish students.
“We want the international community to defend us from the settlers, and from the Israeli army,” Abbas said, in what was billed as his first speech in English to a general American audience.
“We cannot understand how the Israeli government can be so misguided as to fail to understand that the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza that killed thousands of women and children, only sowed more hate,” Abbas said.
“This week I will propose to the United Nations a new timetable for peace talks,” Abbas said, speaking in English and winning a standing ovation from the audience at one of America’s oldest educational institutions.
Evoking the legends of such icons as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr., Abbas said he was bringing a message of peace.
“Security equals justice,” Abbas insisted, and drew parallels with the century-long US struggle for civil rights peppering his speech with references to King and Abraham Lincoln.
“Enough is enough; end the occupation. We ask that the international community stop hiding behind calls for the resumption of talks,” Abbas said.
The veteran Palestinian leader is set to address the annual United Nations General Assembly on Friday.
Palestinian leaders have said Abbas intends to propose a three-year deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The latest peace talks led by top US diplomat John Kerry collapsed in April amid bitter recriminations on both sides.
Palestinian and Israeli officials are trying to negotiate a permanent deal to seal a ceasefire which went into place in late August after a 50-day war in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas also aligned himself with the fight against the Islamic jihadists spreading terror in Iraq and Syria.
“I am speaking on behalf of 99 percent of the Muslim people around the world. Here, today in the shadow of Ground Zero, I state to the world that the barbarians of ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], Daesh and Al-Qaeda are not faithful Muslims,” Abbas said to applause.
“And to the families and the children of the victims of September 11, I say as a Palestinian Muslim I am sorry for your pain. These murderers do not represent Islam, we all stand against them to defeat their evil plans,” he said.
“At the same time we must work to end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state, for we cannot fight terror only by the gun,” Abbas added.
But he called on America to be a true friend to Israel.
During his trip to the Vatican earlier this year, the Palestinian leader said he prayed with then Israeli president Shimon Peres and Pope Francis.
“I made a prayer for an America that is a real friend of Israel, not a false friend, and just as real friends, do not let friends drive drunk,” Abbas said.
“A real friend of Israel would not let them engage in the widespread killing of women and children including bombing United Nations schools and hospitals such as we saw in Gaza,” he added. AFP