Elias Akleh: Abbas` Declaration = Balfour Declaration
On November 2nd 1917 the then British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, had promised the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland his country’s help to establish a Jewish home land in Palestine. This is known as Balfour Declaration. Last Friday, the ninety fifth anniversary of this shameful declaration, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Chairman of the PLO, had also made a similar shameful declaration.
The Balfour Declaration to Walter Rothschild, the leader of the British Jewish community, to be transmitted to the Zionist Federation stated that: “… His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object …” This Declaration was made without regard to and without consulting the indigenous Christian and Muslim inhabitants of Palestine, and even before enforcing the British mandate on Palestine.
In the usual British double dealings this Declaration came in contradiction to the 1915 McMahon-Hussein agreement. Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, and Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, had an agreement, through official correspondence that Britain would recognize sovereign independent Arab state extending from the Peninsula to Iraq and would arm the Arabs if they join Britain in WWI against the Ottoman Empire, which was a German ally at the time. With Lawrence of Arabia, Thomas Edward Lawrence, as a liaison between the two parties, the Arabs, including Palestinians, revolted and liberated the whole Middle Eastern region from the Ottoman rule in 1918.
In a second betrayal to the Arabs, the British struck a secret agreement, Sykes-Picot Agreement with the French dividing the region among them, by which the British would establish its mandate on Palestine and Trans-Jordan. The British then opened Palestine for Zionist Jewish mass immigration and helped arm their terrorist gangs such as the Irgun and the Hagana, who committed many massacres against Palestinians and later on committed terrorist attacks against the British forces.
The British government fulfilled its Balfour Declaration by establishing Israel, a homeland for Zionist Jews, and by oppressing Palestinian national movements and crushing all Palestinian resistance such as the 1936-1939 nationalist uprising. Britain had also recognized the illegal state of Israel but, up till now, did not recognize the state of Palestine.
The British had no legal right to give an Arab country to a Zionist organization. Such an illegal crime is the origin of many Palestinian massacres, the destruction of 500 Palestinian towns, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the terrorist Israeli army. It is estimated that about 10 million Palestinian refugees are living now in diaspora — almost 7 million of them in poor and densely populated refugee camps in the neighboring Arab states.
Since 1947 the Zionist Israeli occupation of Palestine had been the core issue and the main cause of all the wars and political conflicts in the Middle Eastern region that had affected almost the whole world.
Last Friday, November 2, the 95th anniversary of the illegal Balfour Declaration, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made what could be considered a similar shameful declaration in an interview with Israeli channel 2 TV. In the interview, Abbas gave up the Palestinian right of return to their homeland, surrendered 80% of Palestine to Israel, recognized Israeli occupation as a legal state, criticized Palestinian armed resistance of the Israeli illegal occupation as terrorist acts, and vowed to protect Israeli security by oppressing any possible future Palestinian Intifadha.
In the interview Abbas stated that although he is a refugee from the town of Safed, occupied by Israel since 1948, he does not have the right to live there although he likes to visit the town as a tourist. “… [I]t is my right to see Safed, but not to live there…” Abbas stated because Safed is part of Israel. He stated strongly: “Palestine for me is the 67 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever (he emphasized again): This is now and forever. This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah, I believe that West Bank and Gaza is Palestine, and the other parts is Israel.”
In this statement Abbas recognized Israel as a state on occupied Palestinian land, and dropped his right, as a forcefully and illegally evicted Palestinian refugee, as well as the right of all Palestinian refugees, to return to their own homes. When confronted with this, Abbas stated to Egyptian Al-Hayyat last Saturday that he was expressing his own personal stance and not asking anybody to give up his own right of return. He added, “But all those international formulas, especially that of 194, speak of a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee issue.” This right of return plus reparations is guaranteed by international laws represented in UN resolution 194 without any condition or any agreed-upon solutions. As the representative for the Palestinian people, as he claims to be, and as a politician, Abbas needs to weigh every word he utters because it may have serious political ramifications.
It is sad to note that this so-called “just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee issue” had been adopted by the PLO since 1993 Oslo Accord. The first hint to this agreed-upon solution came in the 2002 “The Palestinian Vision of Peace” article in the New York Times written by then PLO leader Yasir Arafat where he stated: “We understand Israel’s demographic concerns and understand that the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a right guaranteed under international law and United Nation Resolution 194, must be implemented in a way that takes into account such concerns.”
“The Palestine Papers,” a leaked cache of about 1700 files of documents containing thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the hidden from public inner dealings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, had revealed that the Palestinian Authority had already given up the right of return for almost 10 million Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian negotiating team headed by Saeb Erekat had offered Israel the return, only to the West Bank, of a “symbolic number” of refugees. Israeli Prime Minister, then Ehud Olmert, was proposing the return of only one thousand Palestinian refugees annually for over a period of five years.
Abbas had also criticized the democratically elected Hamas government, condemning their launching of rockets in their rightful self-defense against routine Israeli air raids calling it a futile action that does not produce anything. He stated: “There is no justification for launching rockets at all. This would not produce any positive results and would not produce peace. Therefore we had announced in every occasion that such rocket launching is a futile action.”
Abbas was selling himself as the Israeli guard dog, who intimidates Palestinians and keeps them in check. He stressed: “As long as I am here in this office, there will be no armed third intifada … NEVER. … We don’t want to use terror. We don’t want to use force. We don’t want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That’s it.”
This Israeli guard dog (Abbas) entered the Palestinian arena when the Bush (the son) administration created the position of a Palestinian Prime Minister in 2003 and forced Abbas on Yasir Arafat, who refused at the time to give any more concessions to Israel. Salam Fayyad, who came from the International Monetary Fund, was also forced on Arafat as the Finance Minister to manage money given by donor countries to PA. The goal, then, was to strip Arafat from his political and financial powers as the precursors for his ultimate assassination.
Abbas did not spare any effort to cooperate with Lt. General Keith Dayton in building from scratch, training, and arming new Palestinian security forces who would be loyal only to Abbas. He and his security Chief, Mohammad Dahlan, conspired with then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to assassinate Arafat. In 2009, Farouk Kaddoumi, the Secretary-General of Fatah’s Central Committee and PLO’s political department in Tunisia, produced the minutes of a meeting between Sharon, Abbas, and Dahlan implicating them of conspiring to murder Arafat.
Abbas employed his security forces to fully cooperate with Israeli security forces to oppress their fellow Palestinian brothers. They raided Palestinian homes, arrested political activists, chased young children who throw stones on Israeli patrols, oppressed free media and tortured detainees. After Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, Abbas conspired with the Bush Administration (Vanity Fair’s “Gaza Bombshell“) to topple the Hamas government, yet his coup led by his Security Chief Dahlan failed, but divided the Palestinians into West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abbas has sabotaged all attempts to reconcile this division.
Abbas’ interview did not come in a vacuum. He wants to keep his power position and to preserve his two son’s control and monopoly of major resources of the Palestinian economy. He gave this interview just before the American election and before the Israeli election to advertize himself as still the “Best Palestinian President Israel could have” as Shimon Perez had once described him.
Abbas is just an Israeli dog. He does not represent Palestinians but had betrayed them. He had betrayed the Palestinian cause. He had betrayed Palestinian refugees. He had betrayed his Arab brothers. Abbas is just a TRAITOR.