Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called a press conference today in order to respond to the fiercely negative feedback he has received due to Al Jazeera’s publishing of the now (in)famous “Napkin Maps”. The maps in question show concessions allegedly made by the PA President while negotiating a land swap deal with then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. According to the Arab TV Station, Olmert did not allow Abbas to take the original maps so he quickly copied them down on a napkin. This morning Abbas told reporters that Al Jazeera’s claims were “greatly misleading. The napkins that they claim show my truckling to the Jews was, in fact, merely ones used to wipe up some spilt ketchup. True there was a leak, but it was edible not damning.”

Abbas then spent the rest of the press conference trying to recapture the confidence of the Palestinian people in the most effective way he knows how: with good old fashion hate. “Do you want to hear the real story?” Abbas playfully teased the reporters, “The truth is we were negotiating over dinner at a restaurant. The Jew, I am sure this will come as no shock to anyone, tried to steal some of my French Fries. With the might of Allah I swatted his hand away but in the process knocked over a bottle of ketchup. Scared for the well being of my Burberry tie (editor’s note: the style has finally hit the Middle East) I hastily wiped up the table before rushing out of the establishment in disgust.”

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While Abbas did appear to have slowed his political hemorrhaging, his rivals, Hamas, did not seem to be swayed by the PM’s tomato paste story. Hamas Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh countered that, “the Palestinian people are far too intelligent to buy what Abbas is trying to sell. No amount of ketchup, mustard, or relish will save him from his downfall this time.” Asked if he was frightened by these ominous words Abbas causally retorted that,” to the best of my knowledge no violence has ever come from condiments.” He then dismissed one reporter who brought up a recent historian’s claim that the Spanish Civil War began over a bottle of Tabasco Sauce.

David Kozlovsky, an employ at a Jerusalem Burgers Bar, has come forward to lend credibility to the Al Jazeera report, claiming that he was witness to the sit-down dinner between Abbas and Olmert. “While they were both waiting to tell me what they wanted on their grilled chicken salads…err…I mean burgers, I did overhear Abbas make some concessions to Olmert. Then again I also heard him say that he could tell the difference between our Pesto and Chimichuri sauces so his credibility is iffy in my book.”

Olmert, never to be outdone in a good scandal, is reportedly going to be indicted for taking kickbacks from Nikol, the leading paper goods brand in Israel, in exchange for telling the Israeli public that it was their napkins that the maps were drawn upon. Olmert pleaded not guilty asking that, “the courts and the public trust him based on his sterling record.” A guilty verdict is expected.

According to some experts, whether or not the map was indeed just a ketchup stain or a Two-State Solution may have a profound impact on the history of Arab-Israeli negotiations. “If the napkins do in fact feature maps of a post-land swap Middle East,” Bar-Ilan Political Science professor Ayal Brandiess purports, “this would lend serious credence to the growing consensus of people who are convinced that the Oslo Accords were drafted on pieces of toilet paper.”
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