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Mahmoud Abbas: recent Arab Summit discussed war

Donderdag, Augustus 5, 2010 / Last Modified: Zaterdag, December 31, 2011

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Special Dispatch, August, 5, 2010.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud ‘Abbas recently gave an interview to a group of Egyptian newspaper editors. The following are excerpts from the interview, published July 30, 2010 in the 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…”

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…”

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.”

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