Peres: Abbas' Statement is Courageous
President Shimon Peres on Saturday saluted as "courageous" remarks by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas in which he appears to relinquish the demand for a "right to return" of PA Arabs to their former homes in what is now Israel.
"Abu Mazen's courageous words prove that Israel has a real partner for peace," Peres said in a statement, referring to Abbas by his "kunya" name.
In an interview broadcast on Friday night by Channel 2 TV news, Abbas said that he had no intention of trying to regain his childhood home in the northern town of Tzfat (Safed) in Galilee, which was liberated by Israel in 1948.
"I want to see Safed," he said in English. "It's my right to see it but not to live there."
In a direct pitch to Israeli viewers, apparently aimed at assuaging their concerns ahead of a PA bid to seek upgraded UN status, he reiterated his acceptance of the Israeli state within the 1949 Armistice borders that preceded its defeat of combined Arab armies in the 1967 Six-Day war.
"Palestine for me now is '67 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital," he told Channel 2. "This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, I am living in Ramallah, I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts is Israel."