Mahmoud Abbas on Jerusalem and Right of Return:
Why the Camp David Negotiations Failed
November 23, 2000
It is often held that the Camp David negotiations of 2000 failed because the Israeli offer of territory was too small, or because Ehud Barak did not talk nicely to Mr. Arafat.
In this somewhat neglected article from Al Hayat, of November 2000, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), now President of the PNA, makes it clear why the negotiations failed at Camp David. They failed because Israel wanted to retain some rights in Jerusalem, and because the Palestinian side insisted on literal return of the Arab Palestinian refugees of 1948. This "right" is still claimed by Abbas today, and likewise his stand on Jerusalem has not changed, and he has reiterated both positions on many occasions.
Abbas said of Jerusalem:
Jerusalem in fact, was never under the sovereignty of Palestinian Arabs in all of recorded history. It is therefore absurd to claim that it must "return to our sovereignty.
Jerusalem was not part of the West Bank or the territory allotted by the UN to the Palestinian state in1947. Jerusalem was to have been an internationalized city, though the Arab states and the Palestinians refused to recognize it. The Transjordan Legion ethnically cleansed the entire population of the Jewish quarter in May of 1948. (see The Ethnic Cleansing of Jerusalem).
Return of the descendants of the Palestinian refugees would mean the end of Jewish sovereignty in all of Israel. Therefore, Abbas's conditions for "peace" are that not only Jerusalem, but all of Israel be "returned" to Palestinian sovereignty. Abbas wrote:
What Abbas does not write, is that "altering the demographic character" would obliterate the Jewish right to self determination. What nation and what people would agree to such a condition for peace, and what sort of peace is that?
The introduction above is copyright 2007 by Ami Isseroff.
Abu Mazen discusses Jerusalem and the Refugees.
In an article published by the London-based pan-Arabic daily Al-Hayat, Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen revealed some details of the Camp David negotiations over Jerusalem and the refugees. Following are excerpts from the article:
"...In Camp David... the Israelis and Americans were releasing
test-balloons regarding solutions to the Jerusalem issues...."
The Refugee Problem
"The issue of the refugees was at least as important as the
Jerusalem issue, and judging by the results, maybe even more important and difficult. We encountered, and will encounter
in the future, fierce resistance on this subject from the Israeli government, because the bottom line is that [the
return of refugees] means altering the demographic character [of Israel] that the Israelis hope to preserve. In
addition, recognition by Israel of the existence of a refugee problem entails an acknowledgment of Israel's
responsibility for this humanitarian tragedy."
"Compensation should be paid by the Absentee's Property Fund that was founded by Israel in 1949 in order to invest the money of the Arab absentees whose property was stolen. Therefore, compensation should go to those who wish to return as well: compensation for the use of their lands and for their suffering for fifty years and more. Naturally, this compensation should also go to the refugee-hosting states: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and the PA."
When we entered the details of the number of refugees, the Israeli side claimed that no more than 150 thousand refugees left their homes. However, we confronted them with official international, and even Israeli, data. According to UN figures, the number of refugees who left their homes [in 1948] was 950 thousand, while official Israeli circles set the number at 750 thousand. Whatever the real number may be is irrelevant, since the question relates to the principle and the right.
It is noteworthy in this matter, and this is also what we
clarified to the Israelis, that the Right of Return means a return to Israel and not to the Palestinian State... When we
talk about the Right of Return, we talk about the return of refugees to Israel, because Israel was the one who deported
them and it is in Israel that their property is found..."
 Although the violence erupted in August 1929, the Shaw
Commission submitted its report in March 1930, and recommended an International Commission of Inquiry, which in its turn
submitted its own report in December 1930. This report declared the Muslim Waqf as the proprietor of the Wailing Wall
and stated that Jewish prayer arrangements should be in accordance with the status quo. The Ottoman status quo
prohibited the use of the Shofar by the Jews.
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