In the weeks leading up to Pres. Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the UN General Assembly, Palestinian officials buzzed about the Palestinian Authority (PA) president’s intention to unveil a new strategy on cooperation with Israel. Citing Israel’s “lack of commitment” to the peace process, sources told the press that Abbas planned to announce that the PA would no longer abide by the Oslo accords. Shortly after these reports surfaced, Abbas promised to “drop a bombshell” during his 30 September speech, leading the press to assume that the president would announce an end to security coordination with Israel, a policy codified in the 1995 Oslo II agreement. (See Update in JPS 45 for more.)
Notwithstanding the build-up of anticipation, Abbas made no such announcement and alluded in vague terms to terminating Oslo. He said the Palestinians would no longer “be bound by these agreements [with Israel],” but provided no other specifics. Abbas left commentators perplexed, and Palestinians across the political spectrum criticized the speech as cowardly and hollow. Criticism of Abbas’s powerlessness mounted further as violence across the occupied territories and Israel escalated throughout the quarter, resulting in the arrest, injury, or killing of countless Palestinians in clashes with Israeli forces.
Presented below are excerpts from Abbas’s UN General Assembly speech. The full text is available at gadebate.un.org.