(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called on the United Nations security council to support a resolution setting a clear deadline for Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories as he in effect declared the US-sponsored Oslo peace process over.
In a hard-hitting speech to the UN general assembly in New York, he also accused Israel of "war crimes carried out before the eyes of the world" during the recent 50-day Gaza war that ended in a ceasefire on 26 August, adding that Israel had "perpetrated genocide".
"We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment," Abbas declared. Palestinian officials were expected to start working with members of the security council to seek backing for a resolution setting a timeframe for the ending of what he called the "racist and colonial" occupation - a resolution certain to be opposed by the US.
According to diplomatic sources, the proposed resolution has caused a rift with the US, which had been working for some months on another resolution with the Israelis, Jordanians and Qataris aimed at bolstering the Gaza ceasefire with an exchange of Palestinian security guarantees with some loosening of Israel's economic stranglehold.
Abbas's speech immediately drew a furious response from senior Israeli officials, with foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman describing it as "diplomatic terrorism". "Abu Mazen's (the nickname for Abbas) statements to the UN General Assembly clearly illustrate that he doesn't want to be - and cannot be - a partner to a diplomatic settlement," Lieberman said. "There's a reason that Abu Mazen entered into a joint government with Hamas." He added: "Abu Mazen complements Hamas in that he is preoccupied with diplomatic terrorism and slanderous claims against Israel."
Aides to Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu were also harsh in their condemnation. "Abbas's speech was full of lies and incitement. This is not the way a man who wants peace speaks," said one.
Even though the US holds the presidency of the security council, diplomats said the Abbas resolution would most probably find support from the nine council members necessary to pass. Only Britain, Australia and Lithuania would be expected to abstain, forcing Washington to use its veto.
Although Abbas insisted Palestine was committed to "a just peace through a negotiated solution", the moves underlined the frustration among Palestinians over US proprietorship of the peace process amid a new desire to internationalise efforts to secure a two-state solution.
Faced with a veto of the resolution, Palestinian sources say Abbas will accelerate moves to join UN and international bodies, including accession to the international criminal court.
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