Mahmoud Abbas: A “Courageous Partner for Peace”

UPDATE 9 am Israel time Sunday:

At least 4 Qassam rockets were fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza at Israeli border communities overnight. The emotional wounds suffered by southern Israeli men, women, and children as a result of these attacks is incalculable.

Three Syrian tanks entered the DMZ between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights yesterday. 

Syrian tanks in the Golan Heights DMZ yesterday along the border with Israel (photo courtesy: Red Email by Geva Ba'am).

Shells fired from those or other tanks apparently landed in Israel causing a fire on Mt. Hosek. This episode is starkly similar to one that happened two weeks ago on the Syrian-Turkish border in which Syrian tanks fired shells into Turkey. What was the Turkish response? To promptly return fire, as any self-respecting country would do to protect its citizens.

Yesterday the IDF response was equally prompt: it asked the Israeli government to file a protest with the United Nations.  


Talking out of both sides of his mouth as always: Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) on Israeli TV two days ago.

All of the leftist Israel media and much of the international community has been abuzz since Friday over a television interview that PLO/PA head Mahmoud Abbas (Arabic name: Abu Mazen) gave on Israel’s Channel 2.  To read the accounts of this interview, one would be led to think that Abbas has given up on the so-called “Palestinian right of return” and is ready to immediately sign a peace agreement with Israel.

Israeli politicians on the “left” have pounced on the interview as evidence that the Palestinians really do want peace after all . Unsurprisingly, Shimon Peres, one of the leading architects of the disastrous and failed Oslo peace accords, has been leading the charge, saying yesterday that “Abu Mazen’s courageous words prove that Israel has a real partner for peace.” Even more than this,  Peres declared that Abbas/Mazen “has put out a hand to Israel to renew the peace process.” 

Some hand.

Before we examine what Abbas/Mazen actually said, it is critically important to note that the interview with Channel 2 reporter Udi Segal was conducted completely in English.

Here are the “new proposals and concessions” that Abbas/Mazen is willing to make for peace:

1. Israel must immediately freeze all construction in Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and the so-called “eastern” neighborhoods of  Jerusalem:

“When we talk about the settlements, the construction is illegal, it’s not a precondition. We have 15 Security Council decisions that say this. In spite of this, what I am saying is, stop the building until we get to an understanding. But Netanyahu refuses this.”

Lest anyone forget, Netanyahu and Israel did freeze all construction in Judea and Samaria for ten months back in 2010–and what did Abbas/Mazen do? He refused to negotiate. Nothing has changed with the Palestinian position. 

2.  Israel must accept a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines (read: 1949 Armistice lines):

“Palestine for me now is ‘67 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital. . .” 

Of course, this never was the declared starting point of “negotiations” until President Obama tried to make it so in his ill-considered comments last year. And it should be remembered that as recently as three weeks ago, Abbas/Mazen was making fiery speeches in Arabic about “all of Jerusalem” being “Palestine’s” capital–a Palestine that included all of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. Nothing has changed with the Palestinian position.

3. Israel must agree to the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel. 

In the most controversial part of the interview,  Abbas said that he had lived in Tzfat (Safad) until he was 13 years old at which time his family fled. He then said this (again, in English):  

“I want to see Safed. It’s my right to see it but not to live there . . . Palestine for me now is ‘67 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital. This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, I am living in Ramallah, I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts is Israel.”

But by yesterday, lest anyone misinterpret what Abbas/Mazen was really saying, Abbas’/Mazen’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh was explaining (in Arabic) that Abbas was merely speaking for himself–not for the millions of so-called Palestinian “refugees”. According to Rudaineh, Abbas would simply rather live in Ramallah than in Tzfat. 

Rudaineh was crystal clear about the so-called “Palestinian right of return”:

“The position of the Palestinian leadership remains fixed. The refugees and the right of return are among the final-status issues that will be negotiated with the Israelis. We are committed to the Palestinian principles as endorsed by the Palestine National Council.”

Nothing has changed with the Palestinian position.

4. The incredibly ridiculous peace offer made by Ehud Olmert back in 2007-8 is not acceptable as a basis of peace–it is only acceptable as a “starter for negotiations”:

Segal: “If a prime minister from Israel would put to you on this table, the proposal that Olmert gave you, would you sign it today?”

Abbas/Mazen: “[No agreement was reached with Olmert. If a document containing the understanding I reached with Olmert were placed in front of me] “I’m willing to sit and negotiate tomorrow.”

Segal: “But you want to start the negotiation from that point, or this is the end?”

Abbas/Mazen:  “No, from that point.”

Segal: “So everything he gave you is okay, but now you want more?”

Abbas/Mazen: “We want to complete our negotiations.”

Again, lest we all forget, Olmert offered the Palestinians the store, including 93% of Judea and Samaria with land swaps for 5+% of the remaining 7%, a capital in “East Jerusalem”, and international control over the Old City with a consortium of Palestinians, Saudis, Jordanians, Americans, Israelis, and others. This was not enough for Abbas/Mazen and the Palestinians then, and it is not enough now–because the Palestinians only want one thing, and that is Israel.

Nothing has changed with the Palestinian position.

Abbas/Mazen has made no new proposals and no concessions.

So, if you hear someone in your local “human rights community” talking about how the Palestinians want peace–with reference to this Abbas/Mazen interview, remember the additional words of Abu Rudaineh this morning when he said that the interview was solely aimed at “affecting Israeli public opinion.”

It was not spoken in Arabic and therefore has no meaning.

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