NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was a dramatic and defiant move at the United Nations on Friday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sidestepped two decades of failed negotiations and surged ahead with demands for Palestinian statehood, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both addressed the General Assembly, where Netanyahu called on Abbas to negotiate with him Friday.
The provocative action sparked violence in the West Bank.
There was huge applause when Abbas held up his formal application for statehood. It followed a speech in which he said it was time for his people to realize their dreams of an independent homeland.
“After 63 years of suffering of an ongoing tragedy and nakba — enough, enough, enough,” Abbas said to applause.
Abbas in effect thumbed his nose at the United States, Israel and other nations who say peace in the Middle East can only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but it was clear that Abbas was empowered by other actions across the region, the so-called Arab spring.
“The time has come also for the Palestinian spring, the time for independence,” Abbas said.
But Netanyahu came back with a strong, frank and blunt speech, calling the UN a “house of lies,” one that has condemned Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, more than all the other nations combined.
“This is the unfortunate part the UN institution, is the theatre of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain, it often casts real villains in leading roles,” Netanyahu said.
“Hezbollah controlled Lebanon, now presides over the Security Council. This means in effect that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing world security.”
Netanyahu said there can be no Palestinian state until there is a treaty guaranteeing Israel’s security.
“President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams. Yup, hopes, dreams and ten thousand missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai,” Netanyahu said.
“Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now don’t you think it’s about time the Palestinians did the same?”
The Israeli leader said he was so intent on making peace with the Palestinians — to give them their own state — that he would meet them anywhere. He challenged Abbas to start the peace talks again right now while both men are here in New York City.
“We’ve both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today in the United Nations,” Netanyahu said to applause. “Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us if we genuinely want peace?”
“I extend my hand, the hand of Israel, in peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. Our destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Israel. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Let that light be the light of peace.”
There was no word from the Palestinians about renewing talks. And although the Security Council meets Monday, their motion at the Security Council could take weeks if not months to sort out.
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