NEW YORK, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to address the Israeli parliament.
The unprecedented invitation came during Netanyahu’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday in New York City. His address followed that of Abbas in the procession of heads of state invited annually to take the stage at the global conference. Netanyahu welcomed Abbas to “speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem” and offering to “gladly come to speak peace with the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.”
The aim of the invitation is to isolate U.N. attempts to restart and impose a peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu has long favored direct negotiations with Palestinians.
“I call on President Abbas: You have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples …The sooner the U.N.’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the U.N. itself,” he said.
The remainder of Netanyahu’s address, and that of Abbas, centered on grievances between the Israelis and Palestinians, a topic long debated at the United Nations but this year forced off center stage by the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State. The speeches sought to persuade President Barack Obama of their respective arguments. Obama, with four months left in office, is considering asking the U.N. General Assembly to plan parameters for a solution to the conflict to help restart the peace process.
The speeches also were directed at the leaders’ respective home audiences, but little else was new in their addresses. Netanyahu and Abbas collectively have addressed the General Assembly 19 times, and each speech follows a similar pattern of resentment and airing of grievances, some dating back to biblical times. On Thursday, each attempted to position himself as a man of peace without a negotiating partner. Netanyahu welcomed an Egyptian peace initiative; Abbas said he welcomed a French initiative, and called for an international peace conference.