Palestinian leader Abbas seemingly accepts Israeli positions

Sunday, November 04, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas granted an interview to Israel's Channel 2 News last week in which he seemingly accepted a number of Israeli positions regarding control of the Land and the use of terrorism against Israelis.

Israeli leaders dismissed Abbas' remarks as a political ploy ahead of Israel's upcoming election.

In the interview, which aired on Friday evening, Abbas stated that he no longer has any claim to the village his family fled during Israel's War of Independence.

"Palestine now for me is the '67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital," said Abbas. "I believe that (the) West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts (are) Israel."

Abbas also condemned ongoing rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza against towns in southern Israel.

Israeli President Shimon Peres hailed Abbas' words as "courageous" and insisted they proved Israel has a true peace partner in the Palestinian leader. But other Israeli leaders weren't so sure.

"Abbas is interfering [in Israel's upcoming election] to the benefit of the Left, ...who represent Palestinian interests in Israel," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio.

Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rudaineh later confirmed Lieberman's charge, telling The Jerusalem Post that the Channel 2 interview was designed to "affect Israeli public opinion."

Rudaineh also rejected interpretations that Abbas had publicly relinquished the demand that millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees" be permitted to flood Israel as part of any peace agreement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement insisting there was no connection between Abbas' remarks to Channel 2 and his actions over the past few years.

"Abbas has refused for the last four years to renew negotiations with Israel, despite a series of steps taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu, such as an unprecedented freeze on settlement construction," read the statement. "Abbas has also refused to discuss the security arrangements that are required to protect the citizens of Israel."

It should also be noted that while Abbas seemed last week to accept Israel's existence on Israel's terms, in actuality he had doggedly refused to recognize Israel as the "Jewish state," a key peace requirement for Jerusalem.

The other question that remains is why Abbas' expressed views are not reflected in the Palestinian Authority-controlled school curriculum.

It is one thing to make conciliatory remarks before an Israeli audience, but if Palestinian school books continue to deny Israel's right to exist, generations of Palestinian youth will grow up viewing the Jews as usurpers, and there will remain little hope of genuine peace.

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