(photo credit: reuters)
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.
“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
“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
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  Arab Peace Initiative,” he continued. “But
we won’t accept at all a Palestinian state that does not have Jerusalem as its
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
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
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
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.”