Palestinians 'no longer bound by pacts with Israel'

UNITED NATIONS • President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority declared on Wednesday that his people were no longer bound by mutual agreements with Israel, including the Oslo Peace Accords, which created the foundation for the Middle East peace process.

In his annual General Assembly speech, Mr Abbas accused Israel of having systematically violated these pacts, which date back two decades and outline security, economic and other arrangements in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel during and after the 1967 war. The pacts formed the basis for governing much of daily life in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) is based.

Mr Abbas said that there was no reason that the Palestinians should remain faithful to these accords as long as the Israelis were not. Therefore, he said, "we cannot continue to be bound by these signed agreements with Israel and Israel must assume fully all its responsibility as an occupying power".

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Mr Abbas' speech was "deceitful", issuing a brief statement that did not address the Palestinian leader's main announcement. Mr Dore Gold, director of Israel's Foreign Ministry, said in an interview that "Israel does uphold its agreements".

Mr Abbas delivered the speech - punctuated later by the ceremonial raising of the Palestinian flag at the UN for the first time - against a backdrop of growing frustration among many Palestinians over the paralysis in peace negotiations with Israel.

ABBAS' SPEECH 'DECEITFUL'

Israel does uphold its agreements.

MR DORE GOLD, the director of Israel's Foreign Ministry

After his speech, attending the flag-raising event, Mr Abbas declared: "In this historical moment I say to my people everywhere: Raise the flag of Palestinians very high (as) it is the symbol of our identity."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was more measured in his remarks and urged a return to peace talks. "We can be under no illusion that this ceremony represents the end goal," he said.

In Ramallah, PA's West Bank headquarters, several thousand people gathered in a square to watch a broadcast of Mr Abbas' speech, wildly cheering.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline 'Palestinians 'no longer bound by pacts with Israel''. Print Edition | Subscribe