Palestinians Accuses Israel of Blocking Peace Process

Posted September 27th, 2012 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the broken down Middle East peace process saying Israel is rejecting a two-state solution and is instead trying to force the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Abbas got a long round of applause as he took the podium at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday before criticizing Israel for continuing to build new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel says negotiations with the Palestinians must not come with preconditions. But Mr. Abbas says it's not too late to salvage the peace process.

“Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community: there is still a chance – maybe the last – to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace.”

Mr. Abbas also asked the U.N. General Assembly to recognize Palestine as an observer state. Mr. Abbas used his 2011 speech to launch a historic bid to gain the territory full membership in the United Nations, which was rejected.

The U.N. General Assembly is now hearing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to repeat warnings about the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Mr. Netanyahu's speech comes amid speculation that Israel could launch a pre-emptive military strike against Iran. The Israeli leader has demanded that U.S. President Barack Obama spell out non-negotiable points, or “red lines,” that would justify an attack. The demand has been rejected but Mr. Obama has stressed that the U.S. will do what is necessary to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon.

In his speech to the General Assembly Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a veiled condemnation of Israel as “uncivilized Zionists.”

Tehran insists its nuclear goals are peaceful but world powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and have hit Iran with several rounds of sanctions.

A leaked report by the Israeli Foreign Ministry says those sanctions are having an impact, hitting the Iranian economy harder than first thought. The Haaretz newspaper says the report finds Iranian oil exports have declined by more than 50 percent over the past year, causing a significant slump in oil revenue.

Already, the U.N. body has heard from Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki.

Mr. Marzouki called for an end to the regime of Syrian President Basher al-Assad and said the U.N. needs to eliminate what he called the “scourge” of dictatorship, just like the world eliminated polio and smallpox.

“We consider that dictatorship is a disease. A disease threatening peace and security as well as the prosperity of people.”

Protests in Tunisia in 2010 led to the fall of former dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, an event credited with sparking the Arab Spring.