ADL says Palestinian leader ‘long on complaints, short on solutions’; dovish Americans for Peace Now calls on PA to maintain security coordination

Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations General Assembly on September 30, 2015 in New York City.  (Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP)
Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations General Assembly on September 30, 2015 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP)


NEW YORK – Jewish groups in the US on Wednesday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of attempting to evade peace talks with Israel, reacting to his speech before the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday.

Groups also accused the Palestinian leader of forestalling rather than promoting the cause of a two-state solution, echoing denunciations of the speech — in which Abbas threatened to discard the Oslo Accords — from Israel’s political leadership.

In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League condemned what it described as Abbas’s “latest and most blatant public repudiation of peace and reconciliation with Israel,” and called it “rife with outright lies and incitement about shared holy sites in Jerusalem, historical half-truths on the conflict, and a pro forma litany of grievances and accusations.”

The ADL described Abbas’s address as “long on complaints, short on practical steps,” accusing him of being more concerned with symbolism rather than solutions, a likely reference to the highly touted Palestinian flag-raising at the UN headquarters in Manhattan.

Instead, the organization said that the international community should “convey to Mr. Abbas and other Palestinian leadership that denial of the Jewish connection to the holy sites in Jerusalem is anti-Semitic and must stop, and that only through direct, difficult, serious and sustained bilateral negotiations with the Jewish State of Israel will Palestinian aspirations be recognized.”

In his speech, Abbas argued that because Israel had violated aspects of its agreements with the Palestinians, the commitments made by the Palestinians in those agreements, such as the Oslo Accords, were no longer binding.

The speech drew a quick and furious reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said it was ” deceitful and encourages incitement and disaster in the Middle East.” Other Israeli politicians, including from the Knesset opposition, also accused Abbas of lying and pushing the cause of peace further away.

The pattern of condemnation was repeated in the US, where American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris accused Abbas of avoiding making difficult policy choices.

“Unilateralism is not policy,” said Harris. “Rejectionism is not policy. Victimization is not policy.”

Even the dovish Americans for Peace Now expressed concern about the implications of Abbas’s statements regarding prior agreements.

“While we recognize the erosion of the Oslo agreement and other accords signed between the PLO and Israel, Americans for Peace Now strongly urges the Palestinian leadership to adhere to basic tenets of these agreements,” Americans for Peace Now Spokesman Ori Nir wrote in a statement Wednesday. “In particular, we urge Abbas and his Palestinian Authority officials to continue abiding by the security agreements with Israel.”

Security arrangements, Nir wrote, were “a matter of saving lives – Israeli and Palestinian alike.”

At the same time, the organization stressed – similar to comments made by European Union Federica Mogherini on Wednesday – that Abbas’ statement should be seen as “an alarm, a warning call for the Obama administration to take action in the United Nations Security Council to resuscitate and re-accredit the two-state solution.”

B’nai Brith International, however, emphasized that Abbas should not attempt to impose a solution through UN action, but through “direct bilateral negotiations with Israel that the UN itself long insisted upon as the only legitimate path to progress.”

“If the PA were serious about peace, its officials would be sitting down with the Israeli government to negotiate a lasting, comprehensive peace rather than pursuing symbolic victories and senseless confrontation at the United Nations,” the organization complained in a statement Wednesday evening.

Although a number of Jewish groups issued responses to the Palestinian leader’s speech, fewer organizations issued responses than did last year.

As reported by The Times of Israel