Abbas Defines All of Israel as ‘Occupied’ in TV Interview

President Mahmoud Abbas reacts during a meeting with Palestinian journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on January 23, 2016. /

JERUSALEM – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defined all of Israel as an “occupation ” in an Arabic-language interview, contradicting comments he has made in the past to the Israeli media.

Abbas, ostensibly Israel’s best option as a partner in peace talks, said on official PA television that the Palestinians “have been under occupation for 67 or 68 years,” thus dating the beginning of the occupation, as he calls it, to the establishment of Israel in 1948 and not the end of the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel took the West Bank from Jordanian hands.

“Others would have sunk into despair and frustration,” Abbas said during the interview. “However, we [Palestinians] are determined to reach our goal because our people stand behind us,” he said.

The comments, a translated version of which was published by the NGO Palestinian Media Watch on Wednesday, were made during an interview aired last month.

But just a week ago, Abbas told a delegation of Jews who visited his office in Ramallah that the Palestinians want to establish a state that would “live in peace and stability alongside Israel.”

“We are experiencing difficult days, and despite all that is happening, we still hold our hand out to you, in order to establish peace and put an end to the loathing and [spilling] of blood between us. Therefore, we are trying to hold dialogue with all parts of Israeli society,” Abbas was quoted by the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida on March 29.

On Sunday, Abbas spoke to a Druze audience, again speaking differently to the staunchly pro-Israel Druze community than he does to the Palestinian media.

“We must hurry building peace here, and find the ideal solution, which is simple – the Palestinians and the Israelis will live in two states that will exist side by side in peace and stability, because we want our children and grandchildren to live a good, normal, and prosperous life,” Abbas said, according to PMW.

Abbas has a history of changing the tone of his comments according to his audience. In 2012, he told Israel’s Channel 2 that even though he was born in the northern Israeli city of Safed, he would like to visit it but not live there, since Safed is today part of Israel.

Official PA television, however, continues to broadcast that Safed, as well as Ashkelon, Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, Jaffa, Nazareth, and other Israeli cities are in fact part of “Palestine.”

For example, the identification of Israeli cities as parts of “Palestine” was made in a documentary on the geography of the country aired, according to PMW, dozens of times.