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At U.N., Palestinian head Abbas demands end to Israeli 'apartheid' occupation

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers his speech in a prerecorded statement Friday at the U.N. General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers his speech in a prerecorded statement Friday at the U.N. General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 24 (UPI) -- In his address Friday to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" by removing Palestinians from their homes and taking their land.

Abbas spoke on the fourth day of the General Debate, a week-long session during which dozens of world leaders speak at the assembly and touch on important matters within their home country.

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In his remarks, Abbas echoed a recent United Nations report that found that Israeli authorities demolished or seized about 300 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the first three months of 2021 -- a 121% increase over the same period a year earlier.

"If Israeli occupation authorities continue to entrench the reality of one apartheid state, as is happening today, our people and the entire world will not tolerate such a situation," he said.

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"Circumstances on the ground will inevitably impose equal and full political rights for all on the land of historical Palestine."

Some of the demolitions, which have gone on for years, occur when Palestinians cannot obtain or maintain certain permits, or when the homes are deemed to be too close to Israeli military facilities.

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Palestinians have long complained they have little recourse to oppose the Israelis on the issue, and the demolitions happen with little if any warning and abruptly make them homeless.

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Abbas on Friday gave Israel one year to end its occupation of territories that Palestinian authorities want for a future state -- which were seized following the 1967 Six Day War. Failing that, he said, the PA will cease its formal recognition of Israel and seek recourse in the International Court of Justice.

"We have not been able to recover our property [from homes before demolition] due to Israeli laws that disregard international law and violate United Nations resolutions," Abbas said in his address. "It is the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their home and recover their property and receive just compensation."

He added that forcing Palestinians out of their homes, and sometimes their neighborhoods, can only be described under international law as "ethnic cleansing" that he said is "rejected by our people and the international community as ... a crime under international law."

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Abbas said he remains hopeful for peace via a "two-state solution," which U.S. President Joe Biden said in his address on Tuesday that he supports.

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"We have extended our hand time and time again," Abbas added. "We cannot find a partner in Israel who believes in and accepts the 'two-state solution.'

"Today, no one in Israel feels any shame when they arrogantly dismiss this solution."

Several other leaders from the Middle East region have spoken at the General Assembly this week, including Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

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