One for Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza, and another half for Palestinians within Israel through a “right of return”
The announcement recently by Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians never, ever would recognize a Jewish state garnered plenty of headlines. It quickly was followed up by a similar announcement from the Arab League and Fatah party.
Watch this speech by Abbas, which led to the headlines, and read the text.
It appears that the peace negotiations were a farce from the get-go.
Abbas is in favor of the 1 1/2 state solution — one for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and another half a Palestinian state within Israel itself through the unfettered and unrestricted “return” of 1948 refugess in the war started by the Arab plus their descendents.
It is clear that any peace deal only is a first step. Abbas, the supposedly most moderate Palestinian leader Israel is likely to see (according to Obama-Kerry), does not accept a Jewish national entity. That’s the bottom line.
Transcript via MEMRI:
Mahmoud Abbas: “Our position is that the settlements – from start to finish – are illegal. They talk about settlement blocs, or about settlements here and there, but we say that every house and every stone that were placed in the West Bank since 1967 and to this day are illegal and we do not recognize them.” […]
“No resolution that we agree upon with the others will be passed unless it is confirmed by popular referendum of all the Palestinians worldwide.”
“Every Palestinian, from Canada to Japan – that includes the Palestinians living abroad as well – will have to agree on the proposal. They will vote in favor or against. If they say “no,” the proposal will not pass.” […]
“The Right of Return is a personal right. If you are a refugee, your son is a refugee as well. Perhaps you will decide to relinquish this right while your son decides not to, or vice versa. Your son is free to do so. When we say that this is a personal choice, it means that he can decide for himself. We will all be making a choice: One option is to remain where we are – in Jordan, in Syria, in Lebanon, and so on – and receive compensation…Of course…
“The second option is to go to another country, as part of an agreement. If someone wants to emigrate to Canada, he is free to do so. Wherever one goes, one remains a Palestinian. In this case, he will receive compensation as well.
“The third option is to decide to return to the Palestinian state, and to receive compensation.
“He can also decide to return to the State of Israel. In such a case, he will receive compensation and return.
“These are the options that we place before the Palestinians. They will choose. If you want to stay where you are – fine. If you want to go abroad – fine. If you want to come to Palestine – fine. If you choose to return [to Israel] and hold Israeli citizenship… This is what it means. Someone asked me how he could become an Israeli citizen. I asked him if he wanted to continue to be stateless after he is back. He will be returning to the State of Israel.
“All the refugees who number 5 million today, along with their offspring, are considered 1948 refugees. There are no refugees who came from Nablus or Ramallah. They are all from Tiberius, Safed, Acre, Nazareth, Jaffa, Beersheba, and so on.” […]
“What we do not want to accept is the ‘Jewish state.’ We shall never agree to recognize the Jewish state.”
Update: This article by The Gatestone Institute explains that Abbas has positioned himself so that he cannot make any meaningful concessions — deliberately … and how Obama probably doesn’t care:
The Arab League support is exceedingly important for Abbas: it gives him the power and energy to resist any pressure from Obama to soften or change his position.
The Arab league’s announcement came after a meeting of its foreign ministers, in Cairo, attended by Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki, who urged his counterparts to show their support for Abbas on the eve of his meeting with Obama, scheduled to take place in Washington on March 17.
The Arab League announcement allows Abbas to turn down any request from Obama under the pretext that he is not authorized by the Arab countries to make any concessions.
Obama should therefore not expect to hear anything new from Abbas, who continues to insist there will be no peace agreement until Israel and the U.S. comply with all his demands.
By requesting the backing of the Arab countries, Abbas is seeking to show Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that there is no point in exerting pressure on him because the Arab countries will not accept any concessions to Israel.
Abbas has actually tied his own hands before the meeting as a way of avoiding pressure.
Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, resorted to the same tactic during the miscalculated Camp David summit in the summer of 2000. Then, Arafat too claimed that he did not have a mandate from the Arab and Islamic countries to make concessions to Israel and that was why he would not be able to strike a deal.
The Arab League announcement also allows Abbas to tell Obama that he is speaking not only on behalf of Palestinians, but the entire Arab world as well. However, many Palestinians would argue that Abbas does not even have a mandate from his people to negotiate, let alone sign, any peace agreement with Israel.
But the Obama Administration does not really seem to care whether Abbas, who recently entered the 10th year of his four-year term in office, is authorized by his people to sign a deal with Israel. Obama and Kerry seem to want a deal at any cost, even if it is with a president who lost his legitimacy many years ago and even if the deal will unravel the day after.
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