In order to truly achieve a lasting peace agreement, the Palestinian leadership must officially recognize Israel as a Jewish state and heavily revise current demands for a full-fledged right of return for Palestinian refugees, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK said Thursday.
In an article published in Fhatom, a quarterly devoted to Israel and the Middle East, Manuel Hassassian, who has served as the Palestinian envoy to Britain since 2005, and Israeli professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor, outlined the steps that in their opinion would be necessary for the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to take in order to assure a final peace deal is realized.
We believe that if there is a will, there is a way,” they wrote. “Peace is a precious commodity and therefore requires a high price for its achievement, reaching a solution that is agreeable to both.”
The authors posited that the ongoing conflict could only come to an end if both Israel and the Palestinians recognized the right of the other to self determination.
“Both sides need to make painful concessions and reach a compromise,” they wrote. “Israel shall recognize the State of Palestine. Palestine shall recognize the Jewish State of Israel.”
Hassassian’s statements are contrary to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent insistence that there was “no way” the Palestinians would ever recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“They are pressing and saying, ‘no peace without the Jewish state,’” Abbas said in March, though he did not spell out who was applying the pressure. “There is no way. We will not accept.”
The Palestinian envoy and Cohen-Almagor went on to state that both negotiating sides must agree upon a plan to resettle and rehabilitate Palestinian refugees, as the issue posed a major obstacle for the peace process.
“For Palestinians, this issue is about their history, justice and fairness. For Israelis, this is a debated issue, where many Israelis are unwilling to claim responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy and most Israelis object to the right of return as this would mean the end of the Jewish State,” the article read.
Hassassian and Cohen-Almagor suggested that 1948 Palestinian refugees should be allowed to settle in the future Palestinian state while other Palestinians would be absorbed by different countries based on previously set quotas. Israel, however, would not be forced to accept a massive influx of refugees and their descendants into its territory, though unification of families living on either side of the Jewish state’s border would be allowed on a limited scale.
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