"Our patience for a long time has come to an end," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared in his annual speech at the United Nations General Assembly. On Wednesday, laying bare the rising tensions with Israel, the leader of the Palestinians Mahmoud Abbas told the UN the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements with Israel will no longer be honored on their part.
Abbas charged Israel with repeatedly violating the agreements on security, economic and civil coordinations. Referring to the Jewish state as an "occupier," the leader stated that the Palestinians saw no point in committing to the agreements, as the Israelis did not.
"Israel has left us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of those agreements while Israel continuously violates them," Abbas told world leaders at the UNGA. "We cannot continue to be bound by these signed agreements with Israel and Israel must assume fully all its responsibility as an occupying power."
The Oslo Peace Accords (signed in 1993 and 1995) and the subsequent agreements with Israel were meant to establish a basis for the two-state solution. Abbas has stated in the past that Israel was violating terms in the agreements and in recent times have all but abandoned peace negotiations with the Jewish state.
Instead, Abbas has taken his fight for Palestinian statehood to the international level, seeking statehood recognition from other countries and pushing for full member status in the UN. (On Wednesday, the Palestinian flag was raised at the UN for the first time, alongside 193 other member states.)
The implications of Abbas' announcement are not yet clear. Some see it as an empty threat, yet it could hold grave consequences — if Abbas does end up acting on it. Leading Palestinian political analyst Khalil Shikaki told The New York Times that Abbas' announcement was "a big deal, no doubt," but held no weight on the ground until the he actually takes steps to cut ties between the two sides.
Abbas will be under significant pressure from Palestinians to do so, but it will take weeks, even months to follow through, Shikaki said.
Grant Rumley, a research analyst who focuses on Palestinian affairs at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies said that it was a last-ditch effort by Abbas to force some kind of progress on the seemingly stagnant conflict. "Basically, this was an ultimatum [to Israel]: 'Honor your agreements and change the status quo or we'll consider more drastic steps.' "
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