AJIRI #62: Abbas’s Goal: The One State Solution

January 2019
On April 9, Israelis are expected to go to the polls to elect the next Knesset. After that election, we anticipate publication of the U.S proposal for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is generally expected that this “Deal of the Century” will call for a two-state solution. Possible provisions of the proposal that are now being widely discussed have focused on the status of East Jerusalem, the boundaries of the two states, and the security guarantees for Israel.

Special attention in the media is likely to be devoted to what Israel might find objectionable in the “Deal of the Century.” But very little attention has been paid to the Palestinian outlook on the two-state solution. Few observers are aware of the fact that the Palestinian position has been to support only a very brief two-state solution, followed by a one-state solution, a Palestinian state “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea.” That result is to be attained through a UN Security Council directive to Israel to allow the immigration of more than five million people of Palestinian descent who now live in territory immediately adjacent to Israel. 
Mahmoud Abbas has clearly stated the Palestinian position in his speech to the PLO Central Committee on October 28, 2018.  Abbas commented on what was expected to be the U.S. peace proposal and directed the following remarks to the United States:
“What is left of the ‘Deal of the Century’? Jerusalem? You have swallowed it, and you moved your embassy there. The refugees and their rights? You have put an end to this, and you shut down UNRWA. You even had the audacity to say that there are 40,000 refugees [left]. To hell with you! How can it be 40,000? The number of refugees who left Palestine in 1948-9 was 950,000. Now they number six million. Why do [the Americans] say it is 45,000? So they can claim that the issue of the refugees is over. Well, it’s not.”
We need to note now that the Palestinian leadership never accepted the “Clinton Parameters” as laid out after the Camp David negotiations in 2000 as well as the Olmert proposal of 2008, which contained major Israeli concessions. It is not generally understood that the reason for non-acceptance was that the Palestinian side refuses to give up its claim of a so-called “right of return” to Israel, the path to the one-state solution.
The Palestinian goal of a one-state solution is not kept secret. It is not only the goal of rejectionist Hamas leaders.Anyone who carefully analyzes the remarks of the Fatah Palestinian leadership will recognize that the Palestinian side is not prepared to accept the long-term existence of the State of Israel. That is why Arafat did not accept President Clinton’s Parameters and Abbas did not accept Prime Minister Olmert’s proposal.
The code language used to demand a Palestinian State “from the River to the Sea” is insistence on the claim of a “right of return.” That claim calls for directing Israel to accept the mass immigration of (a) the approximately 40,000 surviving Palestinian refugees, who fled from the war zone in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948-49 and then found themselves on the Arab side of the armistice demarcation lines, and (b) the more than 5 million descendants of these refugees of 1948-49. 
As President Clinton pointed out in his “Parameters,” there is no legal “right” of mass migration to Israel. As he put it: “The right of return would pertain only to … the new state of Palestine. Admission into Israel would be Israel’s sovereign decision.” Yet Abbas has made it quite clear that the issue of the migration of “Palestinian refugees” to Israel is “not over.” The Palestinian Leadership insists that the people whom the UN has classified as Palestinian refugees, including the great-grandchildren of the original refugees, who are now residents of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, are to be moved to Israel.
Adding this large number of persons of Palestinian ancestry to the current Arab population of Israel would end the Jewish majority in the State of Israel and thus lead to the State’s dissolution. (The number of “Palestinian refugees” is generally understood to be somewhat more than five million. In his speech to the PLO Central Committee, Abbas put it at six million.)
Abbas delivered his October 2018 speech in Ramallah to a Palestinian audience. The language used was clear and blunt. But when addressing a worldwide audience, he chooses his words very carefully to obscure his intent. Here is what he said on January 15, 2019, less than three months after his fiery Ramallah speech in an address to the UN General Assembly:
“I reaffirm the State of Palestine’s commitment to international law and legitimacy and to a peaceful solution that brings an end to the occupation and the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders, and the just resolution of all final status issues, including for the plights of our refugees and prisoners in accordance with the relevant international resolutions.”
Few among those who heard Abbas on January 15 were aware of the fact that the words “just resolution of all final status issues, including for the plight of our refugees … in accordance with the relevant international resolutions” mean “arranging the mass migration to Israel of all those whom the UN has classified as Palestinian refugees.” As for the “international resolutions”: Abbas refers to resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly. These are, in accordance with the UN Charter, mere recommendations.They do not create a right. 
It follows that once the “Deal of the Century” has been made public and presented to the relevant parties, the question to be put to the Palestinian side without delay is whether they accept the existence of a majority-Jewish state and the settling of the descendants of the 1948-49 refugees in the states in which these descendants were born or other states willing to accept them. Meaningful peace negotiations can be conducted only if that question in answered in the affirmative.