July 17, 2024

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Palestinian leader says a UN conference ‘may be the last opportunity to salvage the two-state solution’.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told the United Nations General Assembly that Middle East peace will not be achievable until the Palestinians are granted full rights.

“Those who think that peace can prevail in the Middle East without the Palestinian people enjoying their full, legitimate national rights would be mistaken,” Abbas told the UN’s annual gathering on Thursday.

The veteran 87-year-old leader made a new appeal to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call an international conference on creating a Palestinian state.

A UN conference “may be the last opportunity to salvage the two-state solution and to prevent the situation from deteriorating more seriously and threatening the security and stability of our region and the entire world”, Abbas said.

Saudi-Israeli normalisation

Abbas’s address came as the United States appeared to make progress in brokering a normalisation deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The US, historically the peace broker between the two sides, has all but given up on serious negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s hard-right government, which has pushed forward with illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli-Saudi normalisation would dramatically redraw the Middle East by formally bringing together two major US partners and longtime adversaries.

Netanyahu met US President Joe Biden on Wednesday on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly in New York, and on the same day, an interview was aired with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which he said that the process of normalisation was getting “closer”.

The normalisation talks are the centrepiece of complex negotiations that also include discussions of US security guarantees and civilian nuclear help that Riyadh has sought, as well as possible Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.

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