Doubletalk: Abbas not requiring recognition

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
After repeated vows that Hamas must recognize Israel’s right to exist, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tells an Arabic-language television station that there is no obligation to recognize Israel, including by his own party.

Just last week, during a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated the need for Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. He also said that recognition will be demanded as a precondition for Hamas to join any unity government with him and the Fatah.

However, just a few short days later, Abbas said in an interview with the Dubai-based Arabic satellite network Al-Arabiya that “Hamas is not required to recognize Israel. ... It is not required of Hamas, nor of Fatah, nor of the Popular Front (for the Liberation of Palestine) to recognize Israel."

Abbas has also claimed in the interview that his own Fatah party has never itself recognized Israel’s right to exist. He continues saying that "the PLO, in 1993, recognized Israel as Israel recognized the PLO. Every person has the right to say 'I do not recognize.' Okay? It's your right. It is the right of every organization." Despite these words, Abbas, as well as other officials from his party have in the past said numerous statements recognizing the Jewish State and its right to exist.

Abbas explains his position in an interesting way. He explains that the recognition is only necessary for everyday work and to help solve everyday Palestinian issues. He said that whoever will be part of the Palestinian unity government will have to recognize his counterparts on the Israeli side. It will be an implicit recognition of Israel and its government, rather than a declarative explicit recognition.

He then gives an example of solving a financial issue with the Israeli government: "The Palestinian finance minister has to come to an agreement with the Israeli finance minister about the transfer of the money. So how can he make an agreement with him if he does not recognize him?" Abbas said.

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