President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters, September 22, 2016, New York City. (Photo by AFP)
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has called on the international community to make efforts to turn 2017 into the final year of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Abbas said in his Thursday address to the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly that 2017 should become "the international year to end the Israeli occupation of our land and our people."
Abbas said 2017 would mark 50 years since the Israeli regime carried out its “abhorrent” occupation of the Palestinian territories after the 1967 war, calling on the international community to do more to achieve the long-sought goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state.
He again accused Israel of evading positive international initiatives meant for reaching the objective, saying Israelis have over the past year shunned efforts by France for convening a meeting before the end of the year to focus on a framework and timeline for ending the occupation.
Abbas said Palestinians’ readiness for engaging in peace initiatives have always been overshadowed by “mentality of hegemony, expansionism and colonization” of the regime in Tel Aviv. He criticized Israel’s continued settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. "The settlements are illegal in every aspect."
Abbas said the Palestinian Authority and allies were pursuing “all efforts” to get the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on the settlements and the "terror of the settlers."
"We are undertaking at the moment extensive consultations with Arab countries and other friendly countries on this matter," he said.
Israel approved the construction of 463 illegal homes for settlers in the West Bank last month, sparking outrage in the West, especially in the US. Officials in the UN have also said that the Israeli settlement expansion has surged in the past two months.