New York Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s attempt to project conciliation in his UN General Assembly speech today was overwhelmed by his continued lambasting and demonizing of Israel.

“If President Abbas is indeed serious about negotiating permanent peace with Israel, then he should drop his latest UN gambit and return immediately to the peace table, where Israel has now been waiting for several years while he remains AWOL,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Instead, Abbas says he is seeking the upgrading of the Palestinian delegation at the UN to non-member state status or, in other words, an end-run around the peace table.”

“Abbas’s crude diatribes against Israel in his UN speech belie his effort to project laudable intentions,” Harris continued. In his remarks, Abbas outrageously accused Israel of racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and terrorism.

“Mr. Abbas prevents bilateral negotiations toward a two-state agreement by issuing endless verbal broadsides and conditions just for resuming talks,” said Harris. “Worst of all, Abbas seems to think that the Palestinian side need make no concessions in order to achieve statehood, but expects Israel to do all the heavy lifting.”

Particularly egregious were the PA leader’s comments on refugees. He dwelled on the plight of the Arab refugees of 1948 and their descendants, while neglecting to address the responsibility of the Arab world for initiating the 1948 war and, subsequently, keeping refugees in camps instead of resettling them. By contrast, the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries persecuted and expelled were quickly resettled in Israel and other countries and started productive new lives.

“For those committed to a two-state agreement,” Harris concluded, “President Abbas has once again set back the prospect by his irresponsible statements that undermine trust in his intentions, and by his desire to avoid the one and only place that can lead to a Palestinian state — the peace table with Israel, not the UN General Assembly.”

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