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Abbas Supports Peace and Armed Struggle Simultaneously

PA Chairman Abbas in Washington: "We support peace." In Vietnam: "We are partners in struggle."
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 6/17/2010, 10:49 PM / Last Update: 6/18/2010, 12:56 AM

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Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with U.S. President Barack Obama on June 9 and spoke in favor of negotiations with Israel and “the path of peace.” However, just two weeks earlier, Abbas told Vietnamese President Nyugen Minh Triet, “we are comrades in struggle and fighting.”

In his meeting with Triet, Abbas said, “When people mentioned the Palestinian struggle they recall the struggle of the Vietnamese people. We have both suffered occupation, colonialism and oppression, but you eventually prevailed, and we are certain that, thanks to your position and your support, we shall prevail as well.”

The PA chairman recalled joy in the Palestinian National Council upon hearing that Vietnam had gained its independence in 1977, after decades of conflict with the United States and opponents of communism in which millions of people were killed.

In his meeting with Obama, Abbas said, “I say to you, Mr. President, that we do not wish to incite against Israel; we wish to coexist with it... We will not relinquish the path [of peace] because it is a Palestinian interest."

Abbas' conflicting statements were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).  MEMRI noted that other PA leaders, such as previous chairman Yasser Arafat, were known for speaking of peace to the international press and the Western world, while glorifying armed struggle in Arab forums.