At the start of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that the Palestinians will pursue non-member observer state status at the world body, following an abortive attempt at full recognition of statehood at the Security Council last year.
B’nai B’rith International—which has coordinated communal leadership meetings this week with dozens of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other national delegation heads—condemns efforts by Palestinians to unilaterally advance a statehood drive outside of the direct negotiations with Israel required by previous agreements.
Among the many countries whose leaders B’nai B’rith is meeting this week are those from Russia, Jordan, Germany, France, Hungary, Chile, Greece, Azerbaijan and Italy.
“Palestine,” a not-yet-existent state, would only need the approval of the General Assembly to be upgraded to non-member observer state status, in contrast with the need for Security Council endorsement for full-fledged U.N. membership. In his speech, Abbas slandered Israel by accusing it of a “system of apartheid” and “campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.” He also insisted that the Palestinians have continually tried to engage the Israelis in talks to peacefully end the conflict, but to no avail. In fact, it is Israel that has repeatedly pleaded for serious, direct negotiations without preconditions.
“It is senseless that Abbas has returned to the United Nations with a pyrrhic plan to elevate ‘Palestine’ within the organization, rather than seeking peace through meaningful, comprehensive bilateral talks and real compromise,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “He’s undermining and trying to avoid a negotiations process the Palestinians have now rejected for years. He also again engaged in demonization of his Israeli neighbors and counterparts. There should be no place for lies, such as those he uttered at the United Nations.”
Shortly following Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly. He said, “We won’t solve our conflicts with libelous speeches at the U.N.” and called for a “demilitarized Palestine to recognize the one and only Jewish state.”
In his remarks, Netanyahu emphasized the acute urgency of addressing Iran’s ongoing, illicit nuclear pursuit and delineated the point at which definitive international intervention in the nuclear program would become essential.
“At this late hour, there’s only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program,” Netanyahu said. Using an illustration, he pointed to three stages of uranium enrichment needed for nuclear weapons development and drew a red line between the second and third stages. The Iranians are well into the second stage of uranium enrichment, the prime minister noted, and will soon be ready to move on to, and expedite, the third.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu was right to set a clear point of no return for the international community in its response to Iranian uranium enrichment,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, who joined Jacobs and other B’nai B’rith leaders in conducting the organization’s marathon engagement with senior government officials this week.
“Israel’s existential security, along with the stability of the Middle East and the world beyond, hinges upon whether Iran can be prevented from reaching the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. Again this week in New York, Iran’s president—reflecting leadership consensus in Tehran—expressly reiterated his anticipation of Israel’s demise.”
Active at the United Nations since its inception, B’nai B’rith will continue over the coming days to meet with world leaders in an effort to highlight priority Jewish concerns, beginning with Iran’s dangerous policies as well as Palestinian refusal to engage in constructive peacemaking with the Jewish state.