Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas this week insisted that his government had already fulfilled its obligation to recognize Israel back in 1993. But a few problems with Abbas' position were immediately noted.
Following meetings with the Turkish government in Ankara on Thursday, Abbas told reporters (in English) that he does not agree with recent remarks by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal rejecting recognition of Israel, "because we, in fact, recognized it in 1993."
Abbas' went on to note that Mashaal and Hamas recognize Israel's existence, too, as they have signed on to Palestinian government documents that acknowledge a two-state solution.
The Palestinian leader's words were meant to counteract harsh criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his failure earlier in the week to condemn the anti-Israel rhetoric coming from Hamas. But the duplicitous nature of Abbas' words was not lost on Israelis.
First, Abbas cleverly continued to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, and especially its right to exist as a national homeland for the Jewish people in their ancient land. Without that level of recognition, Israel's leadership rightly argues that the stage remains set for future conflict.
Second, Abbas' own Fatah party this week chose a celebratory logo for its 48th anniversary that includes a map of the entire land of Israel being replaced by "Palestine."
In addition to making Abbas' words ring rather hollow, these two points again reinforce why it's important to pay attention to what Palestinian leaders say in Arabic, and take what they say in English with a major "pinch of salt."
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