Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel of 'war of genocide' in Gaza at UN General Assembly

Abbas called for Israeli 'war crimes' in Gaza to be punished

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been accused of “diplomatic terrorism” after he claimed Israel carried out a "war of genocide" in Gaza during his speech at the UN General Assembly.

Mr Abbas called for what he described as Israeli "war crimes" in Gaza to be punished, but stopped short of saying he would pursue charges against Israel. He has previously threatened to take Israel to the International Criminal Court.

"This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment," Mr Abbas said. The devastation unleashed, he asserted, "is unmatched in modern times."

The conflict between Gaza and Israel in July and August devastated some districts and killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were also killed. Israel began the offensive on 8 July with the stated aim of halting cross-border rocket salvoes by Hamas and other militant groups.

The devastating war is believed to have weakened Abbas domestically, with his Hamas rivals enjoying a surge of popularity among Palestinians for fighting Israel.

"We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment," Mr Abbas said in his 30-minute address.

His remarks were angrily condemned by the United States as “provocative” and “counterproductive”.

"President Abbas' speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

Israel denounced the allegations as "a speech of incitement filled with lies." The Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his comments "highlight once again how he does not want and cannot be a partner for a reasonable diplomatic agreement” and accused Mr Abbas of "diplomatic terrorism".

His speech came after Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Tuesday to resume talks late next month on cementing the Gaza ceasefire.

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