Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday told 200 Israeli students who visited him in Ramallah that a peace treaty does not require dividing Jerusalem, but instead turning it into an open, borderless city.
“We don’t need to erect walls and barriers,” he said, proposing instead a Palestinian municipal authority in east Jerusalem and an Israeli one in the western part of the city.
“We will recognize the right of the Jews to pray at the Western Wall, and the right of the Christians to pray in the church, he said. But then he added, “We will never agree to dividing control over the Al Aksa mosque,” meaning Temple Mount.
In his familiar elastic treatment of history, Chairman Abbas lectured his guests: “Jerusalem used to be Palestinian, then the war happened and the cease-fire, and Jordan arrived and took responsibility over Jerusalem and the entire West Bank, in order to give it back eventually to its indigenous nation.”
Of course, Jerusalem was never “Palestinian” because there were no “Palestinians” on the Planet before they were invented around the time the Jordanian Kingdom was invented, 1921, give or take a year. And as to the supposed plans of Jordan to “eventually” hand over Jerusalem to anybody, the only thing missing there are any references to that effect in any document outside Mr. Abbas’s feverish mind.
Still, the chairman received some applause when he told the Jewish kids, “You’re telling us Jerusalem isn’t Palestinian, I tell you, if not to us, hand it over to Jordan.”
Abbas said the Palestinians have already made painful concessions by agreeing to the principle of land swaps as part of the two state solution.
When asked if he is ready to permit Jewish presence inside the future Palestinian state, like Palestinians who live within Israel, Abbas said there was no room for comparison: “The Palestinians had been in Israel since before the creation of the state. The settlers only arrived here in recent years. First give me the 1967 borders of the Palestinian state, and later we’ll discuss the rest of the details.”
Of course, the settlers did arrive on the land before the establishment of a Palestinian state, so it’s not clear whether Abbas was using physical time or spiritual time in his response.
Abbas accused the Israeli side of making up the demand for recognition as a Jewish state just to sabotage the negotiations. He noted that no one asked Egypt or Jordan to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a prerequisite for a treaty. He said Israel should approach the UN if it needs such confirmation, it’s not up to him.
Except that, when taken against 150 years of anti-Jewish Arab propaganda in which many gallons of ink were spilled to describe Israel as a cancer in the flesh of the great Arab nation, and is destined to be flushed into the sea, Israel is well within its rights to receive official confirmation that those sentiments no longer fuel its neighbor’s mainstream culture.
The meeting between the Israeli students and the chairman was organized by Labor MK Yehiel (Hilik) Bar, who chairs the Knesset Lobby for the Promotion of a Solution for the Israeli-Arab Conflict.