Abbas backtracks on right of return

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he was talking about himself and not P.A. policy when he indicated that he would give up on his demand for the Palestinians’ right of return.

In a Nov. 2 interview with Israel’s Channel 2, Abbas said he would not demand the right to live in Tsfat, which he left in 1948, saying he would visit as a tourist. The right of return for displaced Palestinians is a key sticking point in stalled peace negotiations.

Abbas also said he viewed a Palestinian state as existing only in the pre-1967 borders. He called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restart negotiations from the premise that a Palestinian state would be formed in the West Bank and Gaza with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

“Palestine for me is the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital, this is Palestine; I am a refugee, I live in Ramallah, the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine, everything else is Israel,” Abbas told Channel 2.

The next day, Abbas clarified in an interview with the Arabic al Hayat newspaper out of Egypt that he was speaking about himself when referring to the Palestinian right of return and not about the policy of the Palestinian Authority.

At the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting Nov. 4, Netanyahu referred to Abbas’ back-and-forth remarks, saying, “Only in direct negotiations will it be possible to clarify what the true positions are.” — jta