Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday praised PA President Mahmoud Abbas for his interview with Israel's Channel 2 on Friday, affirming the PA president's apparent dismissal of a right of return for Palestinian refugees.
"In private conversations, too, [Abbas] expresses willingness to concede the right of return," Barak told Army Radio.
However, Abbas advisers were quick to assert that the PA president said nothing that negates the right of return following the Channel 2 interview.
"The position of the Palestinian leadership remains fixed,” said Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas. “The refugees and the right of return are among the final-status issues that will be negotiated with the Israelis. We are committed to the Palestinian principles as endorsed by the Palestine National Council [the PLO’s parliament-in-exile].”
Barak defended Abbas, saying the Palestinian president "is not joining 'Likud Beytenu' and not Zionist youth movements, because he is the Palestinian leader, but you can't say we have no partner with [Abbas]."