AJC: Test Palestinian President Abbas's Vision at Peace Talks

Sep 27, 2013, 09:14 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Addressing the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to continue the current round of talks with Israel "in good faith and with open minds, strong determination and an insistence on success." Direct Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed this summer with active encouragement from the United States.

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"Let's hope this time Palestinian leaders will stay at the table, and also will nurture, in schools and media, an atmosphere of peace among the Palestinian people that will be conducive to the worthy goal of a negotiated two-state solution," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

"Israel has been down this road with the Palestinians before, and has tried to close the deal, only to see it evaporate as the Palestinian leadership balked," said Harris. "Most recently, Palestinian leaders tragically refused to accept, after intense negotiations, the peace proposals offered in 2000, again in 2001, and yet again in 2008."

Abbas urged UN members to consider the "consequences of failure" if a peace accord is not achieved in nine months. "Failure must compel the international community to intensify efforts to seize upon this chance" for peace, said Abbas, referring to previous actions taken by the UN and other international organizations against Israel.

"The Palestinian leadership must make the hard decisions, and must end what has been an all too comfortable, reflexive reliance on the international community to pressure Israel," said Harris.

"The road to sustainable peace does not run through the UN," said Harris. "It is found in the hearts and minds of Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are ready and willing to work together."

"Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, like his three predecessors, is ready, as he has said on more than one occasion and in no uncertain terms," Harris added. "Will Abbas make the necessary decisions to bring about a true end to the conflict, and the realization of the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security?"

At the same time, AJC voiced disappointment that Abbas continued, in his UN address, to promote demonstrable falsehoods about the conflict, which can only undermine the climate of peacemaking.

"To tell the UN General Assembly -- indeed the world -- that, after the Oslo Accords were signed 20 years ago, the PLO 'firmly repudiated violence' and affirmed a 'rejection of terrorism' is simply not true," said Harris. "The history of the past two decades, tragically, is replete with countless acts of terror -- and thwarted acts of terror -- from both the West Bank and Gaza, aimed at Israeli civilians and population centers. This is a stark reality that Abbas must confront, and not seek to sweep away under the rug of revisionist history."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee