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>Abu Mazen discusses Jerusalem and the Refugees
>In an article published by the London-based pan-Arabic daily Al-Hayat,
>Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, Mahmoud Abbas, aka
>Mazen revealed some details of the Camp David negotiations over
>and the refugees. Following are excerpts from the article:
>"...In Camp David... the Israelis and Americans were releasing
>regarding solutions to the Jerusalem issues…."
>"In all of their proposals, they spoke of annexing more than one
>within the walls; they focused on the Armenian quarter, assuming that
>annexation to Israel of] the Jewish quarter was a given."
>"We categorically rejected all of these proposals, and so they dropped,
>bomb of their demand for sovereignty over the Al-Haram [the Temple
>claiming that the remains of Solomon's Temple are in its square or
>underneath the Al-Haram Al-Sharif itself. They also demanded praying
>privileges in the Al-Haram for a set number of people per day or per
>"We rejected this as well, but we agreed that they could pray next to
>[Wailing] Wall, without acknowledging any Israeli sovereignty over it.
>relied on the resolution of Britain's 1929 Shaw Commission. The
>acknowledged that the Wall belongs to the Muslim Waqf, while the Jews
>allowed to pray by it as long as they do not use a Shofar." (1)
>"After the summit they demanded, through mediators, to establish a
>synagogue in Al-Haram's square and said that they would be satisfied
>that. When their proposal was rejected, they proposed that a Muslim
>establish an installation on Temple Mount, part of which would be used
>the Jews as a synagogue. However, we rejected this proposal as well."
>"Afterwards, they proposed that the sovereignty [over the Temple Mount]
>[given] to God and that neither side demand proprietorship. We rejected
>proposal because God is sovereign of the Universe in its entirety; why,
>then, should His sovereignty be established specifically in this case?
>fact, they wanted to establish it specifically in this case so that the
>sovereignty would return to them, since they, in their view, are the
>to God out of all the world's nations [i.e. 'the Chosen People']."
>"Israel operates in such a way in order to indicate to its adversary or
>enemy that any demands of it are futile... it tries to cause its enemy
>adversary to doubt his own rights and his ability to achieve them..."
>"Some believed that erasing the [Israeli] 'redline' or 'taboo' on the
>of Jerusalem is a victory for us... the truth is that Israel has no
>objection to opening up taboo issues in order to feel the other side's
>pulse. Thus, they create an impression that it is Israel that makes
>concessions and demonstrates flexibility, so that the other side is
>to answer in kind and begin the process of compromising..."
>"Therefore, whatever achievements we may gain [by the erasing Israeli
>taboos], we will end up the losers, because it is merely a negotiating
>maneuver which cannot be perceived as a [Palestinian] victory or
>"Our position on the issue of Jerusalem is simple: Jerusalem is part of
>territories occupied in 1967 and, hence, Resolution 242 applies to it.
>Jerusalem must return to our sovereignty and we will establish our
>on it. We have no objection that East and West Jerusalem will be open
>another and cooperate in municipal activities."
>The Refugee Problem
>"The issue of the refugees was at least as important as the Jerusalem
>and judging by the results, maybe even more important and difficult. We
>encountered, and will encounter in the future, fierce resistance on
>subject from the Israeli government, because the bottom line is that
>return of refugees] means altering the demographic character [of
>that the Israelis hope to preserve. In addition, recognition by Israel
>the existence of a refugee problem entails an acknowledgment of
>responsibility for this humanitarian tragedy."
>"The refugee issue is an Israeli taboo and Barak's foremost redline.
>is the most prominent issue on which there is an Israeli consensus:
>right and center, religious and secular, new immigrants and old.
>all the doors to this difficult problem are locked… [In Israel's view]
>Refugee Problem is an Arab and international affair in which Israel
>have the slightest interest. This is the Israeli rhetoric as we see,
>and read in all their media and in their leaders' statements."
>"…The Israelis say how the Palestinians left their homeland of their
>volition and after a call [to leave] by Arab and Palestinian leaders,
>wanted to annihilate Israel."
>"If compensation is needed, Israel will be delighted to put up an
>international fund. It is even ready to participate in this fund in
>settle the refugees - outside of Israeli territory, of course - but
>also states that there is a tragedy that is parallel to that of the
>Palestinian refugees: the tragedy of the Jewish [immigrants] from Arab
>countries. Israel claims that the international compensation should
>these people and that the money should be divided equally between the
>Palestinians and the Jews…"
>"We, on the other hand, claim the following: paragraph 2b. of
>says that 'achieving a just settlement for the refugee problem' is
>necessary. There is no UN resolution dealing with the Refugee Problem
>than General Assembly Resolution 194 from 1949 that states
>should be paid [...] for those who choose not to return.' The right of
>return has priority and whoever does not wish it, may demand
>It is noteworthy that the US kept bringing this resolution up each year
>until it was nicknamed the "American baby resolution."
>"Testimony by Israeli new historians prove that the main reason for the
>exile of the refugees was the premeditated massacres committed by the
>Zionist organizations in order to empty the land of its inhabitants..."
>"Compensation should be paid by the Absentee's Property Fund that was
>founded by Israel in 1949 in order to invest the money of the Arab
>whose property was stolen. Therefore, compensation should go to those
>wish to return as well: compensation for the use of their lands and for
>their suffering for fifty years and more. Naturally, this compensation
>should also go to the refugee-hosting states: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon,
>Iraq, and the PA."
>When we entered the details of the number of refugees, the Israeli side
>claimed that no more than 150 thousand refugees left their homes.
>we confronted them with official international, and even Israeli, data.
>According to UN figures, the number of refugees who left their homes
>1948] was 950 thousand, while official Israeli circles set the number
>thousand. Whatever the real number may be is irrelevant, since the
>relates to the principle and the right.
>It is noteworthy in this matter, and this is also what we clarified to
>Israelis, that the Right of Return means a return to Israel and not to
>Palestinian State… When we talk about the Right of Return, we talk
>the return of refugees to Israel, because Israel was the one who
>them and it is in Israel that their property is found…" (2)
>(1) Although the violence erupted in August 1929, the Shaw Commission
>submitted its report in March 1930, and recommended an International
>Commission of Inquiry, which in its turn submitted its own report in
>December 1930. This report declared the Muslim Waqf as the proprietor
>the Wailing Wall and stated that Jewish prayer arrangements should be
>accordance with the status quo. The Ottoman status quo prohibited the
>of the Shofar by the Jews.
>(2) Al-Hayat (London-Beirut), November 23, 2000 part I, November 24,