UNITED NATIONS (CN) — Hearing from two leaders vilified at the United Nations a day earlier, Palestinian and Iranian leaders warned the General Assembly on Wednesday that two of the international body’s watershed agreements now stand in jeopardy.
One of them is the 1993 Oslo Accords, a document that founded the decades-long dream of Israeli and Palestinian states existing beside each other in peace and freedom.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority was created as a result of that agreement, warned the assembly Wednesday that time is running out to realize its vision.
“The two-state solution is today in jeopardy,” Abbas told the assembly. “We cannot as Palestinians stand still in the face of this threat targeting our national, political and social existence on our land, and endangering regional and international peace and security.”
For Palestinians, Abbas said, the status quo represents an “entrenched system of apartheid” hardening into a “one-state reality.”
“We will have to take steps or look for alternatives to preserve our national existence and to keep open the horizons for peace and security,” Abbas added, emphasizing later that those other options would be “peaceful, peaceful, peaceful.”
The second agreement whose existence is in peril is much younger; Iran, Germany and the permanent five nations that signed the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2015.
President Donald Trump strongly hinted Tuesday at an exit or renegotiation from the agreement, often abbreviated as JCPOA.
“Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani repudiated the threat Wednesday but took care not to mention the former reality TV star who became the 45th president of the United States by name.
“It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics: the world will have lost a great opportunity,” Rouhani told the General Assembly on Wednesday. “But such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran’s course of progress and advancement.”
Like Trump, Rouhani began his address by plugging his recent electoral victory.
“Four months ago, over 41 million people — constituting 73 percent of Iran’s total eligible voters — came to the polls in the country’s 12th presidential election and once again expressed confidence in my platform,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani went on to describe his platform as one of “moderation,” a recurring theme in his speech.
“The call of moderation is from a nation that has been committed to it,” he told the assembly. “We are not preaching moderation, but practicing it. The JCPOA is a case in point.”
To be sure, Rouhani represents a softening of the Islamic republic’s tune since his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who provoked a U.N. General Assembly walkout by airing 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Yet neither of the Iranian leaders recognizes Israel, which they call the “rogue Zionist regime.”
That nonrecognition was a sticking point in treaty negotiations, as one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demands.
Abbas, who called Israel by its name and met with Trump this morning, repeatedly told the assembly that he prefers to keep following Oslo’s path. Otherwise, he warned, Palestine will be forced to demand equal rights for “all of the inhabitants of the land of historic Palestine from the river to the sea,” meaning from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.
“This is not a threat, but a warning of the realities before us as a result of ongoing Israeli policies that are gravely undermining the two-state solution,” Abbas said.
Abbas also undercut the claim by Netanyahu on Tuesday that he has been “committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” Israel’s “military occupation of our land has now lasted for over half a century,” the Palestinian leader said.
Netanyahu’s speech did not include the word “occupation,” which passed its 50th anniversary on June 10 this year.
Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders noted that tonight marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
Abbas noted that, by a coincidence of the Jewish and Islamic calendars, both religions celebrate their new year within a day of each other this year.
“Tonight, we are congratulating the Jews on the occasion of the New Year, and we would like to congratulate Muslims on the new hijri year tomorrow,” he said, emphasizing “our problem is with the Israeli occupation and not with Judaism as a religion.”
This story is developing…