Daily Israel Report

PLO UK Ambassador Opposes Abbas's Position

PLO envoy differs with Abbas, calls for recognition of Jewish state, limited 'right of return,' and 'settlement blocs' annexed by Israel.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/12/2014, 6:23 PM

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Ambassador to the United Kingdom (UK), Manuel Hassassian, released an article on Thursday, in which he broke with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's demands from Israel.

Writing in Fathom magazine with Israeli professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Hassassian proposed an outline for how peace arrangements might look. In return for Israeli recognition of the "State of Palestine," he wrote "Palestine shall recognize the Jewish State of Israel."

The position is diametrically opposed to that of Abbas, who repeatedly and adamantly opposed recognition of Israel as the Jewish state during the peace talks, which he torpedoed in April by signing a unity agreement with the terror group Hamas.

Hassassian also breaks with Abbas concerning the right of "return" for "Palestinian refugees," namely the roughly five million descendants of Arab residents of Israel who left the country in 1948, so as to make way for the attacking Arab armies to assault the nascent modern Jewish state.

The ambassador called for "unification of families" in Israel "on a limited quota scale annually," adding "massive refugee return to Israel will not be allowed."

Abbas for his part has demanded that all five million "Palestinian refugees" be given permission to flood Israel.

In terms of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, the Biblical heartland of Israel, Hassassian stated "the major settlement blocs...may be annexed to Israel upon reaching an agreement with the PA as part of the land swap equal in size and quality. Border adjustment must be kept to the necessary minimum and must be reciprocal."

This position also differs from Abbas's, which proposes that "Palestine" will have not a single Jew in it.

The challenge to Abbas's position from within the PLO comes as PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat this week called Abbas a "coward" for not applying to more international conventions, as the two are facing off over how best to attack Israel diplomatically.

Same but different

While Hassassian's proposals diverge with Abbas's position in many regards, there are numerous points which are shared between them.

For one, the ambassador calls for the 1949 Armistice line to be the border of a Palestinian state. He also calls for "East Jerusalem" to be the capital of "Palestine," with the western part of the 3,000-year-old Jewish capital remaining under Israeli control.

In terms of the Old City of Jerusalem, Hassassian proposes a "special regime" coordinated between both sides, indicating perhaps an international management of the city. 

Reportedly the peace talks suggested that the Old City and the Temple Mount be a sort of autonomous region under joint international management, including Israeli and PA representatives.

Hassassian further called for a corridor connected Judea and Samaria on the one hand with Hamas-held Gaza on the other. The corridor would be only open to "Palestinians," with no Israeli presence, and no passage to Israeli-held territory from it.

Finally, the ambassador calls for Israel to release jailed terrorists as an "act of good will," a move that eventually will see all terrorists released from Israeli prisons.

Israel released 78 jailed terrorists in the course of the peace talks as a "gesture." The release was highly unpopular in Israel, where it was widely perceived as morally abhorrent and legally untenable, as well as posing a security risk with no reciprocal incentive.