CMEP Bulletin: Round up for February 20
Abbas charmes a crowd of young Israelis…
As Secretary of State John Kerry prepares a framework document that would serve a step towards a final agreement and extend negotiations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hosted an event last Sunday for 300 Israeli young people at the PA headquarters.
The New York Times reports, “The Palestinian news media described the well-publicized event, which was rare in its scope, as part of Mr. Abbas’s outreach efforts toward Israelis. Mr. Abbas’s conciliatory tone also seemed to be intended as a way to keep up the pressure on the Israeli leadership.”
One comment in particular grabbed a lot of media attention. He told the crowd, “But we do not seek either to flood Israel with millions (of refugees) or to change its social composition.” This suggests that the Palestinian negotiators may agree to limit the “right of return” for most Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948 and 1967 to a future Palestinian state, not Israel.
This statement was in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments in January when he said, “what we are being asked to do is allow the establishment of a Palestinian state …which will try to flood us with refugees.”
President Abbas also showed a willingness to deviate from the 1967 lines using land swaps and accept a third-party force in the West Bank such as NATO to ensure security.
The Associated Press notes, “The audience of young Israelis, mostly affiliated with dovish political parties and coexistence activities, greeted Abbas’ comments with multiple bursts of applause.” One of the organizers, Israeli Labor party lawmaker Hilik Bar says the meeting was, “unprecedented.”