In a meeting with nearly 170 Israeli college students, at his office in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority does not want a divided Jerusalem, but wants a united city — a united capital for two states.
Abbas said that Jerusalem should be open and united; followers of all faiths should be able to enter it.
“This is what coexistence means”, Abbas stated. “We do not want violence and war.”
“We do not desire to divide Jerusalem, we want it to remain open, where Jews and Palestinians can coexist and live side by side”, Abbas said.
The Palestinian president further stated that Israel’s ongoing illegitimate settlement activities are making the two-state solution unattainable:
“There are some youngsters who are calling for a one-state solution, but I say no. We are committed to a two-state solution, but we can keep Jerusalem a united capital for two states.”
As for the Israeli preconditions, especially regarding a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, Abbas said, “We will not recognize it as a Jewish State” [such recognition would mean negating the internationally-recognized right of return for Palestinian refugees], and added that the Palestinian Authority will not accept the presence of any Israeli soldier in Palestine.
“We want peace with Israel, we took many steps to reach this goal, we want to establish our state in all of the Palestinian territories captured by Israel in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital”, Abbas said. “We want the peace talks to succeed. April 29 is the deadline for these talks.”
The Palestinian president further stated that the Palestinian Authority does not want violence, and has been acting to prevent “violent activities”.
During the meeting with the Israeli students, Abbas also informed them about the difficult conditions in the occupied territories, the ongoing invasions, assaults and violations carried out by the army. He also pointed out that Israel continues to steal Palestinian water in the occupied West Bank.
He also said that the Palestinian negotiators asked their Israeli counterparts to act on resuming the work of the special committee against incitement, but Israel refused.
“Yes, there is incitement carried out by some Palestinian media outlets, in the educational sector…, and many other facilities…” Abbas said. “But, there is also incitement against us in Israel…”
As for the issue of the Palestinian refugees, Abbas said that he does not want to “flood Israel with refugees”, and is not seeking to change its “social demography”, adding that there should be an agreed upon solution between Israel and the Palestinians, based on the Arab Peace Initiative.
On Friday, Israeli Foreign Minister of the extreme right wing ‘Israel Our Home’ Party, said that Israel would never give up its demand of a full and official Palestinian recognition of it as a Jewish State, the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people.
Abbas said that the Palestinians would never agree to this demand, adding that it is only meant to foil peace talks.
The Palestinian President further stated that Israel never demanded Egypt and Jordan to recognize it as a Jewish State when signing peace agreements with the two countries.
A Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State also poses great risks for the indigenous Palestinians who managed to stay in their home when Israel was established in the historic land of Palestine, in 1948.
At that time, the Israeli forces destroyed and depopulated hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns, displacing more than 800.000 Palestinians. Right now, there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees living in but dozens of refugee camps, both in the occupied Palestinian territories and in a number of Arab countries.
Despite numerous United Nations resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, and resolutions affirming the Right of Return of the refugees, Israel has never recognized these legitimate Palestinian rights, and has continued to ignore and attempt to negate them.