28 September 1995, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II Accord)

13 September 1993, Israel Ministry of Affairs: Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (Oslo I Accord)

Abbas Says Palestinians No Longer Are Bound by Oslo Accord

Palestinian Authority president's remarks at United Nations sends peace negotiations with Israel into uncharted territory

By Joe Lauria

Sept. 30, 2015

UNITED NATIONS--Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians no longer are bound by the 1995 accord that established the foundation for a two-state solution because of Israel's failure to implement it, a declaration that sends Mideast negotiations into uncharted territory.

Mr. Abbas's remarks, while stopping short of announcing concrete steps, raise questions about the future of the Palestinian Authority

The so-called Oslo II Accord stipulated that full Palestinian independence and an end to occupation by Israel would come by 1999. Meanwhile, it set up three areas in the West Bank for transitional governance.

"We...declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue," Mr. Abbas told the United Nations on Wednesday in his annual address to the General Assembly.

Questions also emerged about whether Mr. Abbas's post would be dissolved, what would happen to Palestinian security forces and how the Palestinians might continue to receive funding, which comes almost entirely from the European Union and the U.S.

"I don't think this will have any practical consequences," said Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst and former cabinet minister. "What he said was an expression of frustration and a warning to the international community that the current status quo is not sustainable."

Mr. Abbas's comments came as foreign ministers from the Middle East quartet, where the U.S., the U.N., the European Union and Russia are represented, met on Wednesday afternoon at the U.N.with key partner countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France and the U.K. to press the sides to resume serious talks.

Speaking afterward, EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini played down Mr. Abbas's remarks, saying they served as a warning of what could happen--not a sign that peace talks were dead.

"I interpreted his words as a scenario that is going to happen if" there is no progress. "And that is an if," she said, adding that the key steps for both sides was to begin to implement decisions to which they had already agreed.

Mr. Abbas, citing Israel's settlement activities and failure to release Palestinian prisoners, condemned what he said were Israel's violations of the 20-year Oslo Accords. "Israel has destroyed the foundations upon which the political and security agreements are based."

He also warned of the threat of a new Palestinian uprising if the situation wasn't resolved.

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office was quick to condemn Mr. Abbas's speech, saying it "is deceitful and encourages incitement and disaster in the Middle East. We expect and urge the [Palestinian] Authority and its leader to act responsibly and accept the offer by the prime minister of Israel to hold direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions. The fact that he time and again has not responded is the best proof there is that he has no intention of reaching a peace agreement."

Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, who is responsible for negotiations with the Palestinians, told Israeli Channel One television that diplomatic efforts had been made by additional parties to press Mr. Abbas not to take radical steps like dismantling the Palestinian Authority.

Instead, Mr. Shalom said, "we heard a general declaration that is less binding and without target dates."

Under the second Oslo Accord, about 3% of West Bank territory was put under the Palestinian Authority. Israeli citizens aren't permitted to enter and aren't allowed to build settlements there or any of the areas of the West Bank.

About 25% of the West Bank is under Palestinian Authority civil control and joint Israel-Palestinian security. About 70% of the West Bank was given to full Israeli civil and security control.

Under the Oslo process, Israel was to withdraw by 1999 from about 60% of the West Bank, Mr. Abbas said. This withdrawal has never been completed.

Instead, Israel "intensified its settlement activities everywhere," Mr. Abbas charged, undermining the possibility of a two-state solution.

Since President Barack Obama's 2009 Cairo speech, in which he called for an end to Israeli settlements, Israel has increased settlements by at least 20%, Mr. Abbas said, "violating its obligation not to undertake any action illegally and unilaterally that would prejudge the final solution."

He also accused Israel of imposing "dominance on our economy," which he likened to Israel's "military and security dominance." This amounted to a rejection of "the right of the Palestinian people to development and to their natural resources," he said.

The declaration by Mr. Abbas follows a diplomatic process in which the Palestinians have been carving out more features of an internationally recognized state.

After winning nonmember Observer State status at the U.N. in 2012, the Palestinians have joined a number of U.N. treaties and organizations, most significantly, the International Criminal Court. Later on Wednesday, the Palestinian flag was raised outside U.N. headquarters, a symbolic move the General Assembly granted in September.

--Laurence Norman at the United Nations and Joel Greenberg in Jerusalem contributed to this article.