|A Gaza demonstration against Abbas, following his remarks on refugees.|
Some have speculated that Abbas is trying to interfere with Israeli elections.
Palestinian Leader Violates Taboo on Refugees -Amy Teibel
The Palestinian president has set off a strident debate by shattering a once-inviolable taboo, publicly suggesting his people would have to relinquish claims to ancestral homes in Israel. In an interview on Israeli TV, Mahmoud Abbas said that while he would like to visit his birthplace of Safed - now a town in northern Israel - he doesn't claim the right to live there. His adviser, Nimr Hammad, said Abbas was being "realistic." "He knows he can't bring back 5.5 million Palestinian refugees to Israel," Hammad said.
No Change in the Palestinian Position on the Right of Return
-Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
- Claims that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV on Nov. 2, 2012 - had apparently relinquished the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees are baseless in light of the clarifications provided by Abbas himself, in which he called the return a "sacred right" and affirmed his full commitment to the basic Palestinian positions.
- The gap between Israel and the Palestinians on the refugee question is unbridgeable. For the Palestinians, the right of return is a taboo matter that cannot be questioned. The formulation "a just and agreed solution based on Resolution 194" does not imply a readiness for a possible Palestinian compromise. "Agreed" means compelling Israel to agree to implement the Palestinian demands for "justice."
- The PLO and the Palestinian Authority (as well as the Hamas government in Gaza) continue to cultivate in Palestinian society the idea of the refugees' return, to prevent any possibility of resettling the refugees outside of the camps, and to maintain the role of UNRWA as a symbolic and practical manifestation of the demand for return.
- According to the Palestinian consensus, the nonimplementation of the right of return will leave the doors of the conflict with Israel open, implying a justification to continue the armed struggle even after a Palestinian state is created. For the Palestinians, the refugee problem is a trump card with which they can keep confronting Israel.
- The Palestinian arena's harsh reactions to Abbas' remarks indicate the inability of the Palestinian leadership, even if it so desired, to present a compromise position on the refugee issue.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Abbas' Pandora Box -Khaled Abu Toameh
PA President Mahmoud Abbas' remarks that he does not want to return to his home town of Safed led to strong condemnations not only from Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, but also from some of his political allies in the PLO. The widespread denunciations show that the Palestinians remain strongly opposed to any concessions to Israel with regard to the "right of return" for refugees to their former homes inside Israel.
But Abbas himself is partially responsible for the fact that Palestinians have been radicalized to a point where they see any talk of compromise with Israel as an act of "high treason." Over the years, Abbas has repeatedly declared that the "right of return" is a sacred issue and a "red line."
Abbas says he did not give up on the right of return
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has denied giving up on the refugees' right of return, saying remarks about not returning to his home town, which is now in Israel, was a "personal position."
"I have never and will never give up the right of return," he told Egypt's Al-Hayatt Egyptian satellite channel late on Saturday, according to a transcript.