Farouk Kaddoumi, a veteran PLO official, dropped a political bombshell Wednesday with a call for “returning” the West Bank to Jordan.

Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunisia, said he supported the idea of a federation or confederation between the West Bank and Jordan. His remarks, which came during an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, are the first of their kind to be voiced by a senior PLO figure in decades.

Kaddoumi is one of the founders of Fatah, and for decades served as head of the PLO’s “political department.” He is one of the few PLO leaders who refused to move from Tunisia to the Palestinian territories after the signing of the Oslo Accords, which he had strongly opposed.

Kaddoumi told the newspaper, during an interview in his office in the Tunisian capital, that giving the West Bank back to Jordan would be a “positive move.” He added, nevertheless, that the Palestinians should not drop their demand for a right to return to Israel proper.

“We launched our revolution for all of Palestine, and that’s why we need to be very cautious,” Kaddoumi said.

“We must safeguard our people’s right to return,” he stressed. “We must insist on the right of return for all refugees, because this is the minimum that we could accept.”

Kaddoumi launched a scathing attack on the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, for abandoning the armed struggle against Israel and failing the Palestinian people.

“Undoubtedly, the Palestinian Authority has reached a dead end,” he stated, adding that the peace process had failed because Israel was seeking to dictate its terms and conditions to the Palestinians.

Referring to economic hardships in the West Bank, Kaddoumi said that Palestinians’ lives had become a tragedy due to “widespread starvation and harsh conditions.” He also said the Palestinians had lost hope of reaching an agreement with Israel that would ensure them their minimal rights.

“Unfortunately, Israel has seized most of the lands of the West Bank and the only way left for us is the national resistance,” he said. “Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority and its president do not want any kind of resistance after they got rid of the fighters who say that resistance is the only want to liberate the land.”

He acknowledged that Fatah had been weakened due to its failure to reform and return to the path of armed struggle. He also slammed Abbas for “cutting my salary.” The PA president made the decision several years ago following harsh criticism against him by Kaddoumi.

He also scoffed at Abbas’s renewed statehood bid at the United Nations, saying the PLO had obtained membership in the international organization in 1974. In addition, he noted that the UN had recognized the Palestinian state declared by Yasser Arafat in 1988, adding that 105 countries had since lent their own recognition.

“By going back to the UN, Abbas is falsely creating the impression that he is making achievements that were already achieved,” he said.

Kaddoumi’s remarks about returning the West Bank to Jordan apparently came in response to recent statements made by Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal, who served as crown prince between 1965 and 1999.

At a meeting with Palestinians in Amman, the prince said the territories of the West Bank were actually part of the Hashemite Kingdom. He added that the two-state solution was now irrelevant.

Jordan officially renounced its claim to the West Bank in 1988 when the late King Hussein announced his kingdom was cutting off its administrative and legal ties to the area.

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