MEMRI: PA President Mahmoud Abbas Presents His Views on the Right of Return
November 02, 2012 Clip No. 3634
Following are excerpts from an interview given by PA President Mahmoud Abbas
to Israeli Channel 2 on November 2, 2012, and an interview with Al-Hayat TV
a day later.
Channel 2 (Israel), November 2, 2012:
Mahmoud Abbas: As long as I am here, in this office, there will be no third,
armed, Intifada. Never. We don't want to use terror. We don't want to use
force. We don't want to use weapons.
Interviewer: You are originally from Safed.
Mahmoud Abbas: From Safed, yes.
Interviewer: Do you wish to go there?
Mahmoud Abbas: Of course. I want to see Safed.
Interviewer: To visit or to live?
Mahmoud Abbas: No, no. I want to visit with somebody else who is sitting
with us now. I visited Safed before once. But I want to see Safed. It's my
right to see it. But not to live there.
Interviewer: Is this Palestine for you?
Mahmoud Abbas: Palestine now, for me, is the 1967 borders, with East
Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever.
Al-Hayat TV, November 3, 2012:
Interviewer: What about the Right of Return, and the talk about Safed, where
you were born but do not wish to return?
Mahmoud Abbas: This is my personal position. It is my right to say where I
want or do not want to live. However, nobody can undermine the Right of
Return, because it is mentioned in two places.
The first is UN Resolution 194. Today, people might not remember Resolution
194, but this resolution, passed in 1949, grants compensation to anybody who
does not wish to return. So the basis is the Right of Return, but anybody
who does not wish to return is free [to choose].
Interviewer: So when you retire and become a regular Palestinian citizen
again, you will get compensation if you do not wish to return?
Mahmoud Abbas: I will be free to choose. Not just me, any citizen who does
not wish to return... What is the compensation for? It is compensation for
our property and so on, but also for our suffering. So even those who return
have the right...
Interviewer: To compensation for their suffering.
Mahmoud Abbas: Of course. That is the basis. Therefore, Resolution 194
grants compensation to anybody who does not want to return.
Now let's consider the Arab peace initiative, which serves as the basis for
the Arab policy, adopted by all the Arab and Islamic countries. What exactly
does it say? It states: "a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem,
to be agreed upon in accordance with UN resolution 194."
How do you interpret this? "A just solution," "agreed upon" – with whom? As
long as you are negotiating with another party, Israel, you want to reach an
agreement with it. If you were the victorious party, nobody would argue with
you about anything. But since this is the solution proposed by the Arab
states – a just solution for the refugees, agreed upon in accordance with
Resolution 194 – then this is the interpretation.
There is one more thing. Six basic issues still remain: the borders, the
settlements, security the refugees, the water, and so on. All these issues
must be brought to the negotiating table, to be discussed on the basis of
Resolution 194 and the Arab peace initiative. The agreements we reach will
be presented to the people for a referendum, and it is up to them to accept
or reject them.
If they accept them – fine, but if they reject them – not only the solution,
but the party that proposed it, will be defeated.
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