AJC Disappointed by Abbas' Rejection of Peace Talks with Israel

Sep 23, 2011, 17:12 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC is deeply disappointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to trample on the hopes for peace with Israel by taking his statehood bid directly to the UN.

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"President Abbas' theatrics may play well in Ramallah, but continuing to ignore Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will not bring Israelis and Palestinians any closer to a sustainable peace," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "The Palestinian leader's abject refusal to even meet with Netanyahu while both are in New York this week says volumes about Abbas' commitment to peace with Israel. It truly is a very sad day for those of us who support a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict."

During his UN General Assembly address, Abbas waved a copy of the application he submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the Security Council to consider "the admission of Palestine on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (East Jerusalem) as its capital, as a full member of the United Nations."

Abbas repeatedly accused Israel of rejecting negotiations, even though past talks collapsed when the Palestinians walked out. Indeed, while referring to the peace talks that the U.S. helped to relaunch a year ago, Abbas failed to acknowledge that they broke down several weeks later because he unilaterally decided to stop speaking with Israel's government, a posture that continues to this day.

"The historical record of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking belies the fable nurtured by Abbas," said Harris. "From the landmark peace deal offered by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, with President Clinton's backing, at Camp David in 2000, to the broad proposal from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Abbas in 2008, Israel has energetically sought to achieve through negotiations a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians. However, at the moment of reckoning, the Palestinian leadership inexplicably balked."

Equally troubling was the Palestinian leader's inability in his UN speech to recognize at all the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the land of Israel, though he did refer to Christian and Muslim links "to the Holy Land."

In his nearly 45-minute address, Abbas conspicuously omitted any mention of the Hamas regime that controls Gaza, and with whom Abbas signed a reconciliation accord in May. Hamas, which remains committed to Israel's destruction and continues to fire mortars and rockets into southern Israel, had opposed Abbas' UN gambit.

Abbas also repeatedly in his long speech blamed Israeli settlements for the absence of peace. "Israel has shown in the past a willingness to suspend building, and even dismantle, settlements, but this is an issue, among others, that must be resolved not at the UN, but in direct talks," said Harris.

"Sadly, most of the world's nations, including Israel and the United States, support the goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace, but once again the Palestinian leadership stands out as the chief obstacle," said Harris.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee