Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mahmoud Abbas on Friday demanded an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, and told the United Nations that it was time for Palestinian independence. He also promised to seek prosecutions for war crimes committed by Israel during the 50-day “war of genocide” in Gaza.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Abbas said, “There is an occupation that must end now. There is a people that must be freed immediately. The hour of independence of the state of Palestine has arrived”.
However, he did not set a date for fast-tracking Palestinian statehood, after aides implied that they were thinking of 2017 as the possible date.
He also described the Israeli attacks as a “genocidal crime”, pledging, “We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment”.
The 50-day war in Gaza was “a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world”, citing the large-scale destruction and deaths of children. Over 460 children were killed during the conflict, with Israeli shelling striking UN-run shelters, a move described by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as a violation of international humanitarian law.
In his address, Abbas did not specify if he would take up Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Palestine has been looking to join the ICC so that it can take legal action against Israel. Palestinians had become an observer state in the UN in 2012, which lets them become a member of the ICC.
“The future proposed by the Israeli government for the Palestinian people is at best isolated ghettos for Palestinians on fragmented lands”, Abbas said.
“At worst it will be a most abhorrent form of apartheid”, Abbas warned, referring to the prejudiced regime which had rule over South Africa before free elections in 1994.