GAZA, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- The statement made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an interview with Israeli Channel 2 triggered protests Saturday mainly in the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamic Hamas movement.
Hundreds of Hamas supporters took to the streets in Gaza on Saturday, chanted slogans against Abbas and in support of the Palestinian historic right of return, and set fire to his pictures.
"I'm a Palestinian refugee from Safad (now a city in northern Israel). I would like very much to visit there but I don't want to live there. All what we want is to establish an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas said in the interview on Friday.
Hamas and other factions, even figures and leaders in the Palestinian president's Fatah party, slammed Abbas' statement and considered it another new concession to Israel that deprive the Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian territories and all over the world of their right to return to their hometowns in Israel.
In 1948, shortly before the state of Israel was created, thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their towns and villages and since then they have been considered by the United Nations as refugees. Most of the Palestinians insist on returning to the towns and villages of their grandfathers.
Hamas slammed Abbas in an emailed statement for considering the land of the Palestinians as only the lands that were occupied by Israel in 1967, namely the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, adding that "Abbas considered the rest of the land of the historic Palestine as the lands of Israel, which can never be accepted."
"Someone like Abbas who makes concessions on the right of return should stop representing the Palestinian people and leading them," said the Hamas statement, adding that "all the Palestinians and their leadership assert that the right of return is a right that no one among the Palestinians can delete."
Although the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), chaired by Abbas, and Hamas leaders have accepted the principle of establishing a Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, the rivals still disagree on the interpretation of the Palestinians' right of return. Abbas wants it to be resolved in accordance with the UN resolutions related to the question of refugees, while Hamas wants a full right of return to historic Palestine.
Hamas premier Ismail Haneya has said earlier that it is not the right of any leader of a faction, organization or government to drop the legitimate historic right of return of the Palestinian refugees.
A well-informed Palestinian source has said earlier that Abbas is determined to go to the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 15 to ask the international body to recognize Palestine as a non- member state. Abbas denied that he would support terrorism or violence against Israel.
Yahia Rabah, a senior Fatah party leader in Gaza, told Xinhua that the right of return "is not decided by President Abbas or by anyone else, but there is a (UN) Security Council resolution No. 194 that decides the right of return for the Palestinians and gives them their legitimate rights."
Nabil Abu Rdineh, an aide to Abbas, said in a statement published by the Palestinian official news agency Wafa that those who can accept the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders "are those who are abandoning the right of return for the Palestinian refugees."
"I believe that the right of return for the Palestinian refugees is one of the main issues in the final status talks with Israel on a permanent peace solution," Abu Rdineh said, "The Palestinian leadership is committed to the legitimate rights of the Palestinians including, of course, the right of return."
JERUSALEM, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday reacted coolly to statements made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Israel's Channel 2, in which he said as long as he remains in power he will not allow a third intifada to break out. Full story
GAZA, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- The statement made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an interview with Israeli Channel 2 triggered protests Saturday mainly in the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamic Hamas movement. Full story