Netanyahu sceptical of Abbas hint of no return for refugees

Sun Nov 4, 2012 11:55am GMT
 

* Abbas says voiced personal, not official, stand on refugees

* Netanyahu repeats call for Abbas to return to peace talks

* Israeli FM says Abbas "can't deliver the goods" on peace

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced scepticism on Sunday at an apparent concession from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a major sticking point in any future peace negotiations.

Abbas's comments on Thursday that he had no permanent claim on the town of Safed, from which he was driven during a 1948 war, were widely seen as hinting he was dropping a demand for a right of return of Palestinian refugees to homes now in Israel.

"I watched President Abbas's interview at the weekend, and I heard that since then he has already managed to recant," Netanyahu told his cabinet, urging Abbas to return to direct peace negotiations, suspended since 2010, to clarify his positions.

Abbas's remarks, to Israeli Channel 2 TV, were also interpreted by some commentators as an attempt to soften his defiance of Israel and the United States over his plans to ask the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians to a non-member state.

Touching on the refugee question - one of the most emotional issues for Palestinians in their dispute with Israel - Abbas told Channel 2 television: "I visited Safed before, once. But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not live there."   Continued...

 
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