“It is a proud day”, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said.
Abbas did not say how he will move forward.
Al-Quds also reported that a number of Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces across the West Bank and that settlers organized rallies in Nablus and Hebron.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced his speech as “deceitful” and accused Abbas’s words of encouraging “incitement and destruction in the Middle East”.
Netanyahu called on Abbas to “act responsibly” and answer his proposal for direct negotiations with Israel without any preconditions.
Senior Palestinian official Mustafa Barghouti yesterday reiterated Abbas’s declaration in an interview with AFP, saying the “Oslo accords are over”.
Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement remain deeply divided. Netanyahu added that Israel was committed to preserve the status quo in accordance with the agreements it has with Jordanian and Egyptian authorities.
Meanwhile, peace talks remain moribund and Palestinian statehood is a long way from being realised. Many no longer believe a two-state solution is realistic and support political violence. “We didn’t hear from him annulling all the agreements he signed with Israel“.
“The occupying power continues to impose a strict blockade of the Gaza Strip to target Palestinian civilians … persisting with its war on aggression”, said Abbas. He did not elaborate on which agreements. Analysts don’t expect any surprises from the Netanyahu speech, either.
With the peace process in deep freeze, there are growing fears that tensions like those flaring at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound could spark a broader Palestinian uprising. The site in Jerusalem’s Old City, sacred to both Jews and Muslims, has experienced repeated clashes over the past two weeks.
Others expressed skepticism that Abbas’ announcement would change anything. “They plan to use the prestige of the United Nations as a backdrop for this charade”, said Ron Prosor, Israeli representative to UN.
He told world leaders Wednesday at the United Nations he no longer has to abide by the agreements that pave the way for a two-state solution with Israel. “Palestine, which is an observer State in the United Nations, deserves full recognition and full membership”, he said.
Earlier this year, Abbas entered the 11th year of what was meant to be a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority.
The UN General Assembly passed a resolution this month allowing the flags of non-member permanent United Nations observer states, including Palestine and the Vatican, to be flown at its headquarters and offices.
In addition to the quartet’s principal members – the United States, the European Union, Russian Federation and the United Nations – foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the Arab League’s secretary general were present at the meeting in an effort to widen worldwide cooperation on the issue.