Speaking today in an interview with Israeli TV, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated calls for the Israeli government to renew its settlement freeze for the purposes of negotiations. Then, in a significant statement, he said he believed a Palestinian state inside the 1967 borders would end all historic claims against the Israeli government.
The later announcement came as something of a surprise, as traditionally Palestinian officials have maintained that refugees would retain the right of return to lands seized during the founding of Israel as well. It is unclear if Abbas intended that this would be renounced in return for the 1967 borders, but it certainly appeared to be the case.
But Israeli officials appear unlikely to agree to such a deal at any rate, having spent the last several decades heavily subsidizing the movement of some half a million Israeli settlers into an ever increasing portion of the occupied territories. Officials on the Israeli side seem to agree that any nominally independent Palestinian state would get only a small fraction of the occupied territories, while Israel would annex the rest, including key portions like East Jerusalem.
Abbas also addressed the Israeli demand to recognize them as a uniquely “Jewish state,” insisting that such a demand was unnecessary because the PLO had recognized Israel’s existence long ago. He insisted that it is not up to his government or any other to make decisions on the official definition of another nation.