Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to convene the meeting early next year while criticising the recent decision of two Arab countries to normalise relations with Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks virtually during the 75th annual UN General Assembly, New York, US, on September 25, 2020.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks virtually during the 75th annual UN General Assembly, New York, US, on September 25, 2020. (Reuters)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appealed  to the United Nations for an international conference on the Middle East in 2021, hoping for a new start after the US elections and the Gulf Arabs' recognition of Israel.

In an address to the General Assembly, Abbas asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to convene the meeting on the Palestinian issue "early next year" and bring in "all relevant parties."

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Full authority 

"The conference should have full authority to launch a genuine peace process based on international law," Abbas told the virtual General Assembly in a recorded address.

"It should aim to end the occupation and grant the Palestinian people their freedom and independence in their own state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and settle final-status issues, notably the refugee question," he said.

Abbas made his appeal amid concerns among Palestinians of dwindling support in the Arab world for their decades-long campaign for an independent state.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain earlier this month agreed to recognize Israel, a major coup for the Jewish state and diplomatic win for US President Donald Trump.

The two Arab states, while saying they still support a Palestinian state, share the concerns of Israel and the United States about neighbouring Iran.

Abbas said: "It is delusional to think that the Palestinian people could be sidelined."

"You should all know that there can be no peace, no security, no stability or coexistence in our region without an end to the occupation and without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian question," he said.

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Two-state solution

The Palestinian Authority has refused diplomatic efforts by Trump due to his administration's staunch advocacy of Israel.

If Trump loses in the November 3 elections, the conference sought by Abbas would take place under a US president Joe Biden, who is also a supporter of Israel but has vowed to promote a two-state solution.

Abbas also said the Palestinians were “preparing ourselves to hold parliamentary elections, followed by presidential elections” and that all factions and parties would take part.

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However he set no date, and there are numerous obstacles. Abbas’s Fatah faction is dominant in the West Bank, but its rival Hamas controls Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said the 84-year-old Abbas' speech "showed more than anything else that his time is up."

"He understood that the peace agreements we have signed shattered the Palestinian veto over peace agreements with the Arab world and what was revealed to all was Palestinian refusal," he said.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies