Mahmoud Abbas still favors demilitarized Palestinian state, minimal refugee return


(JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he was still committed to key concessions he has made in years of negotiations with Israel, including a demilitarized Palestinian state and no massive return of Palestinians to Israel.

Abbas’ remarks in a meeting Tuesday with Israeli academics are notable because he has pulled away from Trump administration efforts to revive the peace talks, principally because of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital while not extending a corresponding recognition to the Palestinians.

It also shows that Abbas remains committed to the two-state solution. Israel and the United States have retreated from the outcome since Trump assumed the presidency in 2017.

Kan, the Israeli broadcast network, and The Times of Israel quoted academics who met with Abbas at his Ramallah headquarters. Both outlets confirmed with unnamed Palestinian officials that Abbas had conveyed the messages.

“I want a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, with no military,” Kann quoted Abbas as saying. “I want unarmed police who carry batons, not guns. Instead of planes and tanks, I would prefer to build schools and hospitals and to devote funds and resources to social institutions.”

The Times of Israel quoted Kfir Alon, one of the Israeli participants, as saying that Abbas said it was “unreasonable for Israel to absorb all Palestinian refugees.” Abbas also said that “we still need to find a solution to the issue of refugees.”

In previous negotiations, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have considered a return of a symbolic number of refugees and compensation for descendants of Palestinians forced to leave.

Recommended from JTA