There were scenes of joy but also tension today after the Palestinian flag was raised for the first time at the United Nations headquarters in New York. As Palestinians celebrated the momentous occasion, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas launched a scathing critique of Israel and listed alleged violations of the Oslo accords.
President Abbas circulated his criticisms ahead of his annual speech at the General Assembly, which listed issues with taxation, water rights, settlement building and demolitions as well as continued Israeli military occupation.
Before his speech, the president described the flag raising as a moment of hope. Writing in the Huffington Post, Mr Abbas said that he was “certain that the day our flag rises among the flags of the community of nations will also be a most emotional and proud day.”
“The General Assembly’s vote confirmed again that we, the people of Palestine, are not alone in our quest for freedom, fulfillment of our rights and an end to decades of Israeli occupation and oppression. On September 30, we will raise our flag in a peaceful gesture that will remind all that justice and independence is ultimately possible. To get to this destination, we need the support of our friends around the world and the leadership of the U.N.”
Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate the occasion, with young people sharing their thoughts on the occasion.
However, amongst the celebrations, President Abbas delivered his UN speech which was as much a “bombshell” as commentators predicted. Accusing Israel of violating the Oslo accords, he said there was no reason for Palestine to honour the agreement while Israel did not.
In his annual General Assembly speech, Mr. Abbas accused Israel of having violated the accords and subsequent agreements that outline security, economic and other arrangements. He asserted that there was no reason that the Palestinians should remain faithful to them as long as the Israelis were not.
“We cannot continue to be bound by these signed agreements with Israel and Israel must assume fully all its responsibility as an occupying power,” Mr. Abbas said.
There was no immediate reaction from the Israeli government. Officials said they were studying Mr. Abbas’s speech.