Abbas’ Cairo Interview: The Demise of Israel: Hidden in Plain Sight

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The Demise of Israel: Hidden in Plain Sight

Here are three quotations from the interview given by PLO appointed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Egyptian newspaper ‘Akhbar Al-Yawm’ on 30 November 2014.

“Israel must recognize the June 4, 1967 border”.

“We cannot recognize a Jewish state”.

“There are six million refugees who wish to return, and by the way, I am one of them”.
(MEMRI 05 Dec 2014 Special Dispatch5898)

The occasion was the meeting of the Arab League on the previous day in Cairo where the Arab League restated its position as:

“categorical rejection of recognising Israel as a Jewish state”
(Al-Ahram online 29 Nov 2014)

These terms were almost identical to a statement by the 22-member body made earlier in the year when the Council of the Arab League stated that it:

“emphasizes its rejection of recognizing Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ “
(Al-Jazeera online 09 Mar 2014)

The same Al- Jazeera article observed that:

“Israel has been pushing to make recognition of Israel as a Jewish state a requirement for peace with the Palestinians”.

Palestinian Rejection

It was in response to Israel’s position that at the end of 2013 Abbas gave a letter to John Kerry, the US Secretary of State. This singled out for attention the continued Palestinian position as:

“refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state”
(Al-Jazeera 13 Dec 2013)

None of this is new or exceptional. It is the standard, rock-solid basic Palestinian position constantly reiterated without deviation in Palestinian political discourse, the media, educational system and mosques. In fact, the idea of accepting Israel as a Jewish state is contemptuously dismissed. As Abbas remarked:

“What is the ‘Jewish state’? We call it the ‘State of Israel’. You can call yourselves whatever you want, but I will not accept it. I say this on live broadcast”.
(Palestinian TV 27 April 2009,

Likewise, prior to the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, he said simply:

“We refuse to recognize a Jewish state”
(Palestinian TV 02 June 2011, Memri clip 2959)

It was on this basis that the Palestinian delegation at the General Assembly refused to agree to the formula of 2 states for 2 peoples. This had been proposed by the Quartet in an effort to restart negotiations by softening the issue with the omission of Israel as a Jewish state.

Further, in the aftermath of the UNGA, Abbas informed Egyptian TV:

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a Jewish state”.
(23 October 2011, Memri clip 3163)

The Traditional Aim

In similar terms, all leaders of the PA/PLO/Fatah express the same rejection. For example, Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian negotiator and Head of Foreign Relations in Fatah (often considered a ‘moderate’) stated in an interview with Lebanese ANB TV on 13 July 2011,

“Two states for two peoples means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this”.
(MEMRITV Clip # 3046)

His colleague and Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki attempted to go further with token bashfulness in an interview with Al-Jazeera (23 Sept 2011):

“When we say that a settlement should be based on these borders (04 June 1967), President (Abbas) understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go”.

“If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall – what will become of Israel? It will come to an end”.

Stressing the need for caution in expressing this, he said:

“If one says that one wants to wipe Israel out … it’s not policy to say so. Don’t say these things to the world. Keep them to yourself.”
(MEMRITV Clip #3130)

But this approach has the possible political problem of seeming to be weak. Therefore, in an attempt to address Arab fears, the then PLO Ambassador to India, Adli Sadeq emphasised the distinction between the obvious factual reality of the existence of Israel and the ongoing refusal to accept it.

“There are no two Palestinians who disagree over the fact that Israel exists, and recognition of it is stating the obvious, but recognition of its right to exist is something else”

To emphasise this distinction between recognition of the fact of Israel’s existence and Palestinian refusal to accept that existence, he continued:

“They (the Israelis – JD) have a common mistake, or misconception by which they fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist, and that it is Hamas alone that loathes them and does not recognize the right of this state to exist.

“They ignore the fact that this state, based on a fabricated enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist.”
(PA Daily Al-Hayet Al-Jadida,

The Demise of Israel: Hidden in Plain Sight

And just in case anyone could be in any doubt, Abdullah Abdullah, then PLO Ambassador to Lebanon, had this to say:

“When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not the solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”
(Lebanese Daily Star, 15 September 2011)

In other words, these statements are far from being rare aberrations. They are entirely typical, commonplace and standard. They are rooted in the dominant Palestinian narrative in which no concessions are ever made to Jewish heritage, history or national rights.

Yet under the influence of this narrative, the mainstream western mass media and political elites collaborate to keep such statements hidden from the western public. Likewise, the standard Arab rejection of Israel as a Jewish state consistently fails to cause even the smallest consternation amongst supporters of the 2-State Solution. Nor does it make a dent in the legend that Israel is to blame for the lack of peace negotiations or a peace agreement.

But whereas such statements can be safely downplayed or ignored in the west by those who don’t or won’t see them, the Arab-Palestinian rejection of Israel is in reality the driving force of the conflict. Therefore, it is not something that Israel can similarly ignore.

Anniversary of Oslo II – The Interim Agreement

We now approach almost 20 years since Oslo II, when the ‘Interim Agreement’ between the Palestinians and Israel was signed. Witnessed by the EU, the USA and others, it was agreed that calls for the destruction of Israel in the PLO Charter should be removed. The Agreement said:

“The PLO undertakes that within two months of the date of the inauguration of the Council, the Palestinian National Council will convene and formally approve the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant”.
(Article XXXI clause 9)

In his speech to the Knesset for the ratification of the Interim Agreement Prime Minister Rabin said:

“I view these changes as a supreme test of the Palestinian Authority’s willingness and ability, and the changes required will be an important and serious touchstone vis-à-vis the continued implementation of the agreement as a whole”.
(05 October 1995 Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Despite several declarations of intention to change the charter, no new charter incorporating these changes has been produced.

As a result, the mainstream western mass media, the political leaders in the west and particularly those who witnessed the Agreement are unable to demonstrate any quotation from any Palestinian leader from any Palestinian political party in support of the following:

  1. The Palestinians recognize the right of Israel to exist.
  2. The Palestinians accept the 2-State Solution as 2 States for 2 peoples.
  3. The Palestinians accept the 2-State Solution as an end to the conflict.
  4. The Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state.

Yet without a dominant Palestinian/Arab consensus in favour of these basic points, how can a successful resolution of the conflict along the lines of the 2-State Solution be possible?

In reality, the situation is even worse. Not only is there no dominant Palestinian/Arab consensus in favour, there is in reality no substantial body of opinion in favour. In fact, there is not even a noticeable body of Palestinian/Arab opinion in favour of these basic propostions.

This raises a further question for the states that witnessed the Oslo Agreement. They are generally very free with their criticism of Israel. But what exactly are they doing about the refusal of the Palestinians to agree on these fundamental issues, which are so basic to any successful 2-State Solution?

In other words, how do they resolve the most recent statements by Abbas in the interview quoted in the first paragraph with a successful 2-State Solution?


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