Does Abbas even want peace???
The mainstream press likes to present him as a 'moderate' but Efraim Karsh asks whether he truly wants peace...
In the wake of the failed Camp David summit of July 2000 and the launch of Arafat’s war of terror two months later, Abbas went to great lengths to explain why the “right of return” – the standard Arab euphemism for Israel’s destruction through demographic subversion – was a nonnegotiable prerequisite for any settlement. Two years later, he described the Oslo process as “the biggest mistake Israel has ever made,” enabling the PLO to get worldwide acceptance and respectability while clinging to its own aims.
Shortly after Arafat’s death in November 2004, Abbas publicly swore to “follow in the path of the late leader Yasser Arafat and... work toward fulfilling his dream... We promise you that our hearts will not rest until the right of return for our people is achieved and the tragedy of the refugees is ended.”
Abbas made good his pledge. In a televised speech on May 15, 2005, he described the establishment of Israel as an unprecedented historic injustice and vowed never to accept it.
Two-and-a-half years later, at a US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, he rejected prime minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal of a Palestinian state in 97 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, and categorically dismissed the request to recognize Israel as a Jewish state alongside the would-be Palestinian state, insisting instead on full implementation of the “right of return.”
He was equally recalcitrant when the demand was raised (in April 2009) by newly-elected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?” Abbas asked in a speech in Ramallah. “You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly.”
When in June 2009 Netanyahu broke with longstanding Likud precept by publicly accepting a twostate solution and agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state, provided the PA leadership responded in kind and recognized Israel’s Jewish nature, Erekat warned that the prime minister “will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him.”
Fatah, the PLO’s largest constituent organization and Abbas’s alma mater, went a step further. At its sixth general congress, convened in Bethlehem last August, the delegates reaffirmed their long-standing commitment to “armed struggle” as “a strategy, not a tactic... This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated.”