Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas clarified his positions regarding the issues of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the so-called “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” in an appearance broadcast by PA TV, translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute).
It is worth watching, for anyone who harbors any doubts regarding what the “moderate” PA leader seeks, in the negotiations with Israel. Abbas states clearly: no Jewish communities will remain in the PA, and 5 million “refugees” worldwide, “from Canada to Japan” – including all of the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 – will have the right to “return” to Israel.
In his address, broadcast three days ago, Abbas rejects categorically even the idea that settlement “blocs” will remain in the PA state ("not one stone") and says that any agreement with Israel will be brought before the Palestinian people worldwide, for a referendum that will accept or reject it.
In addition, Abbas emphatically reiterates his position that the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of any agreement. Speaking at AIPAC's annual policy conference last week, Netanyahu explained that such recognition would be more than a symbolic gesture, but rather a clear statement that the PA was prepared to end the conflict for good, as opposed to simply restarting it at a later point with new claims, such as an attempt "to flood Israel with refugees".
But last night the US State Department - which has been brokering renewed talks between the two sides - dismayed Israelis by stating that in its view the PA would not be expected to make any such concessions.
"The American position is clear, Israel is a Jewish state," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the PA-based Arabic-language Al-Quds newspaper. "However, we do not see a need that both sides recognize this position as part of the final agreement"