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Abbas spokesman: "The purpose of [Abbas'] interview on Israeli TV was to influence Israeli public opinion"

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |
Abbas spokesman:
"The purpose of [Abbas'] interview on Israeli TV
was to influence Israeli public opinion."

Abbas: "I never gave up
and never will give up the right of return."
What was said about Safed
was "a personal position."

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was recently interviewed on Israeli TV (Channel 2), where he talked about the final status agreement with Israel. During the interview, he said that the future borders of a Palestinian state should be the 1967 borders (i.e., before the Six Day War). He also stated that he would like to visit his hometown of Safed, but that he has no desire to live there since it is part of Israel. These statements contradict the messages that are repeated again and again by senior Palestinian officials and transmitted by the government-controlled PA media.

Following the interview, Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said that "a TV interview does not mean negotiations. The purpose of [Abbas'] interview on Israeli TV [Channel 2] was to influence Israeli public opinion."

The official PA newspaper reported that Abbas himself was quick to clarify what he said. In an interview with an Egyptian TV channel, he stressed that he "never did - nor will he ever - give up the right of return [for Palestinian refugees]" and that what he said about Safed was his own "personal position."

Palestinian Media Watch has documented the Palestinian Authority's policy of denying Israel's right to exist.

Click to view Abbas' interview with Israel TV 2 (cited parts are in English).
The following are the translations of Abu Rudeina and Abbas' statements, as reported in the official PA daily:
"The president's [Abbas'] spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina... said: 'The President and the Palestinian leadership will not agree to a state with temporary borders, and those who agree to a temporary state forsake the right of [Palestinian refugees'] return (he hints at Hamas, -Ed.), do harm to national principles, and bring disaster for Palestinian generations in the future.' In a press release yesterday, Abu Rudeina added... that the right of return and the refugee issue are among the still outstanding final-status issues to be negotiated with the Israelis, as are the questions of borders and water. He noted: 'We are committed to the national principles as confirmed by the [Palestinian] National Council (the legislative body of the PLO, -Ed.) in this matter. There is nothing new in our position on this matter.' Abu Rudeina noted that 'a TV interview does not mean negotiations. The purpose of [Abbas'] interview on Israeli TV [Channel 2] (broadcast on Nov. 3, 2012) was to influence Israeli public opinion.'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 4, 2012]
Headline: "The President: I never gave up on and never will give up on the right of return. The attack on me began even before the interview."
"President Mahmoud Abbas said that he never did - nor will he ever - give up the right of return [for Palestinian refugees], and the attack on him based on parts of his statements in an Israeli Channel 2 interview Friday [Nov. 3, 2012] began before the interview was broadcast in full. Interviewed from the Jordanian capital on the Egyptian Al-Hayat channel yesterday, Saturday, President Abbas said, 'All the reactions and commentary came before the interview was broadcast. The attack on me began before anyone saw the interview in full. That's a biased approach used by some in the media, especially Al-Jazeera and some factions who go 'fishing in troubled waters'. I'm no hypocrite, and what I say to the Palestinian people is no different from what I say to Israeli people or Americans or anyone else.' The President added: 'In 1988 the Palestinian National Council (the legislative body of the PLO) recognized UN resolutions 242 and 338, and that decision has been confirmed time and time again... All Palestinians agree to the two-state solution with a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders. Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad agree to that. In the most recent reconciliation agreement [between Fatah and Hamas] in Cairo, the 1967 borders were agreed upon, as was the process of non-violent, popular resistance, and holding elections... There is no problem in agreeing to June 1967 borders and to East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State. All Arab and Islamic states are agreed on this.' The President explained: 'What I said about Safed was my own personal position, and it did not mean giving up the right of return. No one can give up the right of return, since all international records and Arab or Islamic resolutions speak explicitly of a fair and agreed upon solution to the refugee problem, in accordance with resolution 194. The expression 'agreed upon' means [agreed upon] with the Israeli side.' He added: 'The six core issues, the refugee issue being one of them, will be put on the table in the final stage [of negotiations], in accordance with the principles of international bodies. The refugee issue [will be dealt with] on the basis of Resolution 194, and it will be brought to a referendum. The people will either approve it or reject it. Resolution 194 speaks explicitly of the right to return or - for those who choose not to return - to receive compensation. The [right to] return, then, is fundamental. Also, the Arab peace initiative speaks explicitly of a just and agreed upon solution to the refugee problem, in accordance with the resolution mentioned above.' The President went on to say: 'From its beginning, I thought the second Intifada (PA terror campaign 2000-2005 against Israel) was a mistake, and that we should not continue it because it was armed. At the time, my opinion ran counter to popular opinion, and when I ran for election I stated that I opposed the armed Intifada and supported negotiations and peaceful resistance. To this day I believe there should be no armed Intifada. All factions have agreed to popular resistance, and even in Gaza they shoot at those who fire missiles... The use of weapons is a violent act, and I do not want to use violence because I don't believe in that. That's a lost battle against Israel, but popular resistance has a positive effect in building world solidarity with us. I've said it over and over, and I say again: There is no armed Intifada during my administration... Our nation has agreed, by way of its representatives, to peaceful popular resistance, including representatives of the [Palestinian] movements in Damascus like Ahmed Jibril, As-Sa'iqa and the others, as well as it includes Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad. They all stress peaceful popular resistance. And should the people decide otherwise, I'll either accept it or not....' The President stressed that the Palestinian leadership will apply for non-member state status at the U.N. in spite of American threats and heavy pressure, during the current month (November 2012), or after the sixth of the month, to be more exact. He stressed that he is convinced that this step will prove successful, based on the fact that most countries in the world recognize a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders - a fact that angers Israel and those who stand with it."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 4, 2012]