The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday, saying that Israel should return the occupied territories and asked the international community to support the French peace conference that Israel has been evading.
"We recognize Israel and continue to recognize Israel, however, Israel must recognize the state of Palestine and put end to occupation," Abbas said before the plenary, adding that settlement building constitutes “ethnic cleansing” due to its "expansionist" policies and that the settlements are "illegal."
The leader also said that Palestinian people stand “firmly against terrorism” in all its forms and manifestations. However, he added that there is no way to defeat terrorism and extremism without ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
"Actions of Israeli settlers have gone as far as the formation of terrorist groups that set entire families on fire," said Abbas, who also called on the U.N. to protect Palestinians from the Israeli aggressions, "If you do not ensure our protection, then who will?" he asked.
His speech was directly followed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke before a largely empty room. In his speech, he rejected the accusations made by Abbas, saying that the road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah and not through New York.
Netanyahu also warned that the days when the United Nations “reflexively condemned” Israel are coming to an end. “The War on Israel at U.N. will end … We will not accept any attempt by the U.N. to dictate terms to Israel,” he said.
"Abbas is stuck in past. Why not sue Abraham? For Palestinians, the real settlements they are after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv … I will negotiate peace but one thing I will never negotiate is our right to the one and only Jewish state," he said.