Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened in a UN speech on Tuesday to “no longer recognize” Israel as a state, saying it was pursuing “genocide” against Palestinians.
Echoing comments from two top aides over the weekend, Abbas said the Palestinians would continue to fight Israel but that he was open to Israel joining the UN alongside the Palestinians.
“We will declare unilaterally that we are no longer recognizing Israel as a state,” he said in his first speech to the UN General Assembly since April. “We have decided on a new official position and that is, we are not accepting to recognize Israel as a state.”
Abbas warned that the world was witnessing a new phase of the Zionist “murders”.
“We are not willing to lose the blood of the Arab and Muslim people to defend Jerusalem. We will not close our eyes to this genocide,” he said.
Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon responded swiftly, saying that Israel “may not be recognized, but it certainly will never be erased from the maps”.
Meretz chairman Tamar Zandberg said Abbas’ comments were “an act of paranoia, psychological manipulation and absurdity”.
“It is obvious that Hamas and President Abbas are preparing the ground for a third intifada, a fresh cycle of blood, and the hand of the [Israeli] army in more deaths,” Zandberg said in a statement.
On Saturday, Raed Fattouh, a senior member of Abbas’ Fatah party, accused Israel of planning to embark on an “all-out war”.
“The Israeli warplanes would strike terror infrastructure and the resistance sources and media and the Israeli army would launch an all-out war, similar to what happened during the  second intifada (uprising),” he told journalists in Ramallah.
Last week, Abbas accused Israel of illegally building and expanding settlements and said it would not be possible to move forward on any peace deal with the Jewish state unless it stopped.
Israel has imposed a partial blockade on the West Bank and parts of Gaza since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.
But it withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, and maintains tight control of the occupied territories and stranglehold on border crossings.
Last year the UN’s cultural body UNESCO recognised Palestine as a full member, a move which Israel swiftly recognized.