Netanyahu Skeptical of Abbas Comment on Refugees

Sunday, 04 Nov 2012 08:18 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced skepticism on Sunday at an apparent concession from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a major sticking point in any future peace negotiations.

Abbas's comments on Thursday that he had no permanent claim on the town of Safed, from which he was driven during a 1948 war, were widely seen as hinting he was dropping a demand for a right of return of Palestinian refugees to homes now in Israel.

"I watched President Abbas's interview at the weekend, and I heard that since then he has already managed to recant," Netanyahu told his Cabinet, urging Abbas to return to direct peace negotiations, suspended since 2010, to clarify his positions.

Abbas's remarks, to Israeli Channel 2 TV, were also interpreted by some commentators as an attempt to soften his defiance of Israel and the United States over his plans to ask the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians to a non-member state.

Touching on the refugee question — one of the most emotional issues for Palestinians in their dispute with Israel — Abbas told Channel 2 television: "I visited Safed before, once. But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not live there."

But on Saturday, Abbas appeared to pull back from his comments to Channel 2, telling Egypt's al-Hayat television in Arabic: "Speaking about Safed was a personal position and it did not mean conceding the right of return."

Abbas has been refusing to resume peace talks with Israel unless it halts settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, construction that Palestinians say will deny them a viable state. He has however promised to return to negotiations immediately after the U.N. vote on status upgrade.

Washington also wants Israel to halt settlement building, but backs its call for Abbas to return to talks rather than seek statehood at the United Nations first. Abbas could face punitive Israeli and U.S. sanctions if, as expected, he wins U.N. approval for the unilateral move.

PERES PRAISE

Israeli President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace laureate who has little influence on the policies of Netanyahu's right-wing government, swiftly praised Abbas over his Channel 2 interview.

"[His] courageous words prove that Israel has a real partner for peace," Peres said in a statement.

But in the Gaza Strip, seized by Hamas Islamists from Abbas's Fatah group in 2007, thousands rallied against the Palestinian leader. Hamas said no one can "cede the right of return" or "a single tract of the land of Palestine."

Palestinians have demanded that as many as 5 million of their compatriots — original war refugees and their descendants — be granted the right of return to towns and villages that became part of Israel after its founding in 1948.

Israel, saying an influx of refugees would eliminate its Jewish majority, has proposed that refugees be resettled in a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories it occupied in a 1967 war.

Addressing his Cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu said Abbas should re-engage without preconditions.

"Peace can be advanced only around the negotiating table, and not through unilateral resolutions at the U.N. General Assembly, which will only put peace further away and bring about instability," Netanyahu said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose far-right Yisrael Beitenu party is running jointly with Netanyahu's Likud in a Jan 22 general election that opinion polls show the prime minister will win, said Abbas "can no longer deliver the goods" since he lost Gaza to Hamas.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Taxis, Planes and Viruses: How Deadly Ebola Can Spread

Friday, 01 Aug 2014 10:11 AM

For scientists tracking the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, it is not about complex virology and genotyping, but abou . . .

US Missionary Jailed in North Korea Feels 'Abandoned'

Friday, 01 Aug 2014 10:05 AM

A U.S. missionary imprisoned in North Korea since 2012 has said he feels abandoned by his government and has appealed ag . . .

US Calls Hamas Attack 'Barbaric' Violation of Gaza Ceasefire

Friday, 01 Aug 2014 08:53 AM

The White House on Friday condemned a reported Hamas attack on Israeli soldiers in Gaza as a violation of the newly reac . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved