Palestinian activists have denounced their President, Mahmoud Abbas, for saying he would ensure there was “never” be a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel - and for giving up his “right of return” to his Israeli birthplace.
Asked on Israel’s Channel 2 News whether he expected to return to Safed, the hill town in the northern region of Galilee, where he was born in 1935, Mr Abbas said: “It’s my right to see it but not to live there. Palestine for me is [the 1967] borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and for ever … I believe West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the [rest] Israel.”
Izzat Rishek, a member of the Hamas politburo, said: “This statement [does not] express the opinion of the Palestinian people … the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their cities, villages and homes from where they were forcibly expelled is holy … it is not a bargaining chip.”
He added: “The Palestinian people will never drop even one particle of the soil of Palestine… Mr Abbas’ statement doesn’t shock only Palestinians but all Arab peoples.”
Official Palestinian Authority media refrained from comment, but Kuffiya Press, a website associated with the disgraced former security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, said: “[Mr] Abbas has offered Israel a rare and symbolic compromise.”
Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada website, denounced Mr Abbas’s “filthy words”. Azzam Tamimi, a London-based commentator, said: “If Abbas believes he has no right to his birth place in Palestine, can he claim to be Palestinian?”