Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mahmoud 'Abbas: The Recent Arab Summit Discussed War, reiterates vow never to recognize Jewish state

PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas recently gave an interview to a group of Egyptian newspaper editors. The following are excerpts from the interview, as published July 30, 2010 in the Egyptian dailies Al-Masri Al-Yawm and Al-Ahram: 

The Delegates at the Sirte Summit Counted Tanks and Planes

"... At the recent Arab summit, in Sirte, [Libya], the delegates said: 'We will fight [Israel].' They counted tanks, and concluded that [the Arabs] have more tanks than Israel does. They did the same with planes, and said: 'We have 3,000, while Israel has [only] 1,500, so we can defeat it.' Whoever talks this way is forgetting that Israel has 250 munitions factories, [whereas] the Arab states – which of them can manufacture [so much as] a bullet?

"[Nevertheless] I told them, 'If you want war, I am with you.' Later I [repeated], 'I am behind you.' They replied, 'We do not want to fight; that is not our intention.' As for resistance, I told them: 'As the one responsible for a part of the Palestinian people, I do not welcome resistance, and the same is true for Hamas. It does not want resistance [either, as evident from the fact that] it calls [the firing] of missiles 'treason' and 'non-national [activity].' [Then the delegates] fell silent and there was no more talk of war..." [1]

Hamas Capitulates to Iran; The PA Does Not Capitulate to U.S.

"Hamas is refusing to sign the reconciliation [agreement] in response to a direct request from Iran, not from Syria... They accuse us [i.e. the PA] of capitulating to American pressures. [Yet] we did not comply with the U.S. request to refuse to sign the [reconciliation] document, even though they threatened us with siege. [Moreover,] before the [2008] Damascus summit, I was approached by [then]-U.S. vice president Dick Cheney, who asked me not to attend the summit, [but] I refused. He told me: 'I'll get angry,' and I replied, 'Go ahead and get angry.' In other words, I do not [capitulate] to American pressure, even though they give me 450 million dollars a year..."

No Palestinian State without Gaza

"There could have been progress [in the talks with the Israelis] had they responded to our proposal regarding the security and borders. We asked the American [mediators] to inform us of Israel's response to our demand for a commitment to the 1967 borders and a complete [halt] to construction in the settlements. The Israeli side replied that there may be a halt to construction in the settlements, but not a permanent one. As for commitment to the 1967 borders, the Israeli side gave no response at all...

"There will be no solution unless Gaza is restored [to PA rule]... We know that Israel uses the inter-Palestinian division as an excuse to renege on its commitments, but there will be no Palestinian state without Gaza..."

I Will Not Call Israel a Jewish State

"I was the first [Arab leader to meet with] the Jewish lobby in the U.S.. No Arab leader had done so before me, because the extremism [of this lobby] makes it dangerous to meet with [its members]. Everyone advised me not to go; even the U.S. administration did not encourage me, out of concern that [the lobby members] would wait for a misstep on my part, which could be a disaster. But eventually I did go... I was asked 27 questions, the first of which was, 'What is your stance on [Israel as] a Jewish state?... I told them: You can call yourselves whatever you wish, even 'The Great Hebrew Zionist Empire,' but I refuse to call you by any name [of this kind]...

"[About the issue of Palestinian incitement against Israel, I told them:] True, there is [Palestinian] incitement, but when we established a tripartite committee in 1988 to discuss this issue, the Netanyahu government had objections. [The lobby members] asked me about security, and I replied that I had no objection to [the presence of] a third party [i.e., an international force] after the establishment of the [Palestinian] state. They asked me if I would agree to the presence of Jews in this force, and I answered that I wouldn't mind it [even] this force had a Jewish-American colonel or general, but I would object to the presence of an Israeli – [even] a Muslim [Israeli citizen] – because this would mean perpetuating the occupation, and the [international] force is meant to withdraw at some point..." [2]

Al-Qaradhawi Does Not Understand a Thing about Religion

Responding to a fatwa recently issued by Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, which prohibits Arab officials from visiting Jerusalem as long as the occupation exists, 'Abbas said: "If Al-Qaradhawi says that visiting Jerusalem is prohibited, he does not understand a thing about religion. Palestinian Religious Endowments minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash pointed out to him that coming to Jerusalem was mentioned in the Koran and the Sunna, saying, 'Give me one piece of evidence that it is forbidden to visit [this city],' and [Al-Qaradhawi] could not produce a single piece of evidence."


[1] The PA media published slightly different versions of Abu Mazen's interview. The PA's official news agency WAFA gave the following version of this passage about the Sirte summit: "At the Arab summit, [the delegates] told me, 'We will go to war.' I told them, 'If you all fight, we will fight [too].' They replied, 'Don't get us wrong. We do not want to fight, we are talking about resistance.' I said to them, 'Neither the PA nor Hamas want resistance. Hamas describes the missiles [fired at Israel] as treasonous and non-national. It has thus surpassed me [in the harshness of its language], because I described the missiles as [merely] unhelpful. So if neither the PA nor Hamas want resistance, who does? You Arabs? Go right ahead. They fell silent, [and did not continue to talk] about resistance or war." WAFA (PA), July 28, 2010.

The PA dailies Al-Quds and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, which also published parts of the interview, citing WAFA as their source, did not include any of this passage about the Sirte summit. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), Al-Quds (Jerusalem), July 30, 2010.

[2] WAFA's version of this passage: "I do not oppose the presence of a third-party force in the stage following the establishment of the [Palestinian] state, and I do not object to this side being NATO or any other element, but I will not have any Israeli – even a Muslim [Israeli] – on our soil. I will not have any Israeli on my soil..." WAFA (PA), July 30, 2010.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Quds gave the following version: "I am willing to accept the presence of a third-party [force] that will [serve in a] supervisory [capacity] after the reaching of a solution – for example a NATO [force]. [But] I will not agree to the NATO force including Jews, and I will not accept even a single Israeli living in our midst, in the PA territories. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA),  Al-Quds (Jerusalem), July 30, 2010.

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