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Video Catches Abbas Contradicting Commitment to Rice

PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas was reported to have told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week that his group would recognize Israel. In Arabic, however, Abbas broadcast a different message.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 10/10/2006, 5:36 PM / Last Update: 10/10/2006, 10:43 AM


On the eve of his meeting with Rice, Abbas told Al-Arabiya satellite TV that although a Palestinian Authority government would have to accept the existence of the Israeli government for purposes of receiving funds and other logistical coordination, neither Hamas nor his own Fatah group were required to recognize the legitimacy or right to existence of the Jewish State.

The video clip, with subtitles, has been released by Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli group that monitors the Arabic-language media. It can be viewed by clicking here.

The following is the text of the clip from Al-Arabiya [Dubai] and Palestinian TV, aired October 3, 2006:

Host: "But maybe Hamas is right that it does not want to recognize Israel."

Abbas: "Hamas is not required, Hamas is not required to recognize Israel... It is not required of Hamas, nor of Fatah, nor of the Popular Front to recognize Israel. Okay?"

"The PLO, in 1993, recognized Israel as Israel recognized the PLO. Every person has the right to say 'I do not recognize.' Okay? It's your right. It is the right of every organization. But the government which will be formed, and which will function opposite the Israelis on a daily basis... [every hour and perhaps every second, there will be contact between Palestinian ministers and Israeli ministers. And I ask] how can this government, or these ministers, not recognize their counterparts, and then solve people's problems?" [Abbas then gives an example of 500 million dollars in taxes intended for the Palestinians, but put on hold by Israelis]. "The Palestinian finance minister has to come to an agreement with the Israeli finance minister about the transfer of the money. So how can he make an agreement with him if he does not recognize him?

"So I do not demand of Hamas nor any other to recognize Israel. But from the government that works with Israelis in day to day life, yes."

Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al Thani, left Gaza Tuesday after failing to bridge gaps between Fatah and Hamas, according to Israel Radio. Thani said that the central unresolved issue was recognition of Israel.