By Anav Silverman
In a recent meeting with a popular delegation from Jerusalem at the presidential office in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas highlighted his current positions regarding the Washington-led peace negotiations. Speaking to an audience of hundreds of Palestinians this past Shabbos, January 11, Abbas declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.
“He [Kerry] will be told that occupied East al-Quds is the capital of the state of Palestine, and without this there will be no peace between us and Israel,” Abbas was quoted as saying in reporting by the Tehran-based Al Alam International News website and the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
Furthermore, Abbas made clear that the Palestinians would not accept nor recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel. “We will never recognize this and will not agree to this. It is our right not to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Abbas declared on Saturday.
“When we agree on a solution, the Palestinian land, the skies and the borders will be under full Palestinian sovereignty. We will control the borders and will not give up any part of them, and no one will laugh at us.”
Abbas also made clear that the Palestinian right of return was a personal choice and that no authority could decide otherwise. “No authority, [Palestinian] state, the PLO, Abu Mazen [Abbas] or [other Palestinian] leaders have the right to deprive people of their right to return…even a father cannot waive the right of his children [to return] because this issue is a personal right.”
The Palestinian leader also noted during his Ramallah speech that “the duration of the negotiations is for nine months, and then we are free to do whatever we want.”
Palestinians have been reiterating these positions to foreign press as well. A Palestinian official told The Daily Telegraph last week that despite the fact that the Americans have made it clear that the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is vital, “we have made it very clear that we are not going to sign an agreement that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.”
Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) noted that Abbas’s recent speech “expresses a clear message that the Palestinians see the negotiations as simply a tool to achieve Palestinian rights according to the Palestinian viewpoint, and they are not seeking a way to compromise with Israel on essential issues.”
“An Israeli withdrawal from eastern Jerusalem and all the Jewish holy sites located there, in the eyes of Abbas, is an important prerequisite for a political solution, and without this there is no Palestinian leader who has the authority to sign a political agreement with Israel,” pointed out Halevi.
Tazpit News Agency