Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2011.
Credits: REUTERS/Mike Segar
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back at Palestine's bid for statehood Friday, demanding that it recognize Israel before earning its own independence.
"The core of the conflict has always been the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border," Netanyahu said in his speech to the General Assembly. "President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state and make peace with us."
Abbas spoke earlier Friday afternoon and challenged the UN to end Israel's "colonial occupation" of Palestine and make it a free and sovereign state.
"Will (the world) allow Israel to continue its occupation, the only occupation in the world?," he said. "Will it allow Israel to remain a State above the law and accountability?"
Abbas also said he and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) "extend our hands to the the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking."
Netanyahu disagreed, saying he has always been open to peace talks, but was continually rebuffed by Abbas and the PLO.
"In two-and-a-half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you," he said.
He also challenged Abbas to being immediate negotiations.
"We're in the same city. We're in the same building. So let's meet here today," he said "If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today?"
Abbas' speech was warmly received in the General Assembly, but the statehood bid looks likely to fail. U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto and statehood motion that comes before the Security Council, saying Israel and Palestine must resolve the conflict together, without UN intervention.
No date is set for a vote on the Palestinian motion.