The Palestinian Authority leadership will never neglect the “right of return” for Palestinians to their original homes inside Israel, PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared on Saturday.

His declaration came as Palestinians prepared to mark Nakba (“catastrophe”) Day on Sunday in protest against the creation of Israel 63 years ago.

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The PA would continue to take “practical steps” toward achieving the “right of return,” Abbas said.

Every Palestinian “has the right to see Palestine and return to the homeland, because the homeland is our final destination,” he said When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords, the case of the refugees was the basic final-status issue, Abbas said.

“Of course, the other side [Israel] does not want to discuss the issues of refugees, Jerusalem and water, and that’s their business,” he said. “Does this mean that we should surrender to what they want? Of course not.”

Abbas stressed that the Palestinians would not accept a Palestinian state that did not include Jerusalem as its capital.

“Our message to the world is that we want a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and a just solution on the basis of the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative,” he continued. “But we won’t accept at all a Palestinian state that does not have Jerusalem as its capital.”

He claimed that while the Palestinians had accepted the two-state solution, Israel remains opposed to the idea.

“We believe in the principle of a two-state solution and we have recognized it for the past 17 years,” Abbas said. “But they [Israel] don’t agree to the two-state solution.”

With regard to the reconciliation between his Fatah faction and Hamas, the PA president said that the two sides were now working toward establishing a government of technocrats that would have no political affiliations.

The Palestinians’ dream of establishing a state could not be achieved unless the “two parts of the homeland are reunited,” he said – a reference to the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Also marking the occasion of Nakba Day, the Fatah leadership issued a statement in which it said that the “right of return” was a “sacred” right that does not disappear with the elapsing of time.

The Palestinians were determined to achieve the right of return because it was a natural and historic right, Fatah said.

It also called on the international community to assume legal and moral responsibility and consider the Nakba commemoration an international event.

“The right of return will remain sacred for every Palestinian who was forced by the Zionist war machine to leave his or her home and land in Palestine,” the statement said. “The Palestinians won’t succumb to extortion; either we get the home and land peacefully, or we will make sacrifices until we return.”

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