Modern Jerusalem
Modern JerusalemFlash 90

If Israel does not compromise on the unity of Jerusalem, or on the so-called “right of return,” the Palestinian Authority will give up on both, political newcomer Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, argued this week in a lecture at the Council for Peace and Security.

A source present at the event told Haaretz that Lapid was asked, “Do you want 300,000 Palestinians living in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to become Israelis?” Lapid replied, “There are Arabs living in the state of Israel and we need to learn to live with them.”

He then expressed confidence that Israel can reach a diplomatic agreement with the PA without dividing Jerusalem or giving up sovereignty in Arab neighborhoods of the city. The PA demands all neighborhoods of the capital that lie east of the 1949 armistice line as the capital city of a new Arab state.

“Why did Abu Mazen [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas – ed.] suddenly say he was giving up the ‘right of return?’” Lapid asked. “Abu Mazen gave up on the right of return because the Palestinians recognized that there was complete consensus among the Israeli public on this matter, so they moved on to the next matter.”

Similarly, he continued, “There is no compromise on Jerusalem. If the Palestinians understand that without giving in on Jerusalem they will not get a state, they will step down from this demand, too.”

After telling Israeli media that he does not demand the right to live in the Israeli city of Tzfat, Abbas told Arab-language media that “the right of return is holy” and insisted that his remarks to Israel’s Channel 2 news had been taken out of context. His spokesman confirmed that the PA chairman has not given up the demand that millions of foreign Arab descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel be allowed to immigrate to Israel.